Coppin sidesteps danger, 70-63

Howard's defensive traps, upset bid don't foil Eagles

College Basketball

February 17, 2004|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

In more than one sense, last night's men's basketball game with Howard was a trap for Coppin State.

After beating Delaware State on Saturday night to gain first place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, the Eagles were ripe for an upset against the Bison, something that coach Fang Mitchell tried to emphasize in Sunday's practice with extra conditioning. And for much of the game, Howard used a trapping defense that made advancing the ball difficult.

But the Eagles got 17 points off the bench from Kelvin Green, all in the second half, and held the Bison to 32 percent shooting from the field to win their fifth straight game, 70-63. That opened up a 1 1/2 -game lead in the MEAC after UMES defeated second-place South Carolina State, 64-61.

"Our guys were well aware that we weren't looking at this as an easy win, as much as we ran on Sunday," said Mitchell, whose team went to 13-12 overall and 11-3 in league play.

Nonetheless, there were ragged moments, as the Bison (6-16, 4-9) came back from a 10-point deficit in the first half and threatened to escape from a 13-point hole in the second.

After Coppin controlled the first six minutes in taking a 14-4 lead, Howard cut its deficit to 29-27 by halftime despite making only one field goal during a 15-minute span. Using mostly reserves in the first half, the Eagles couldn't take advantage of opportunities presented by the Bison press. As a result, the team made only three field goals during the final 14:03 until halftime.

But after the break, Coppin pulled away behind a 16-3 run led by Green. The freshman, who played only two minutes in the first half, scored eight of his points during a four-minute stretch, and two of his free throws put the Eagles ahead 49-36 with 9:23 left.

From that point, Howard trimmed the deficit to five points - on a pair of free throws by Seye Aluko at the 6:08 mark - but couldn't get any closer.

Henry Colter scored 12 for Coppin, and Nicholas King added 10. Four players scored in double figures for Howard, led by Bilal Russell's 15 and Aluko's 14.

HOWARD-Wilkinson 4-8 3-4 11, Hudson 0-6 0-0 0, Ford 1-2 2-4 5, Jackson 1-4, 0-2 2, Aluko 4-11 5-9 14, Mitchell 4-15 0-0 12, Gant 1-2 1-2 4, Greene 0-3 0-0 0, Russell 4-8 6-8 15, Wright 0-0 0-0 0, Miller 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-60 17-29 63. COPPIN STATE-Yates 1-4 0-3 2, King 1-1 8-10 10, Boykin 2-6 3-4 7, Scott 2-5 0-0 5, Colter 4-6 4-4 12, Otis 1-5 6-8 8, Bradley 1-2 1-2 3, Jones 2-3 1-2 6, Green 4-9 9-11 17. Totals 18-42 32-44 70. Halftime-Coppin St. 29, Howard 27. 3-point goals-Howard 8-30 (Wilkinson 0-3, Hudson 0-4, Ford 1-2, Jackson 0-2, Aluko 1-1, Mitchell 4-13, Gant 1-1, Greene 0-2, Russell 1-2), Coppin St. 2-7 (Boykin 0-2, Scott 1-1, Otis 0-1, Jones 1-1, Green 0-2). Fouled out-Gant, Colter. Rebounds-Howard 38 (Aluko 8), Coppin St. 41 (Boykin, Scott 8). Assists-Howard 7 (Ford, Gant 2), Coppin St. 12 (Green 3). Total fouls-Howard 28, Coppin St. 23. A-915.

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