Boykin's three-pointer saves day for Coppin in MEAC semis, 55-52

Game-long struggles end in big way as Eagles gain final with Florida A&M

College Basketball

March 13, 2004|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

RICHMOND, Va. -- All night long, Jimmy Boykin was one frustrated shooter.

Nothing seemed to be going right on offense for the All-Mid Eastern Athletic Conference swingman, who hasn't had much success in the league tournament since Coppin State started playing on Wednesday.

But as the final buzzer sounded at the Richmond Coliseum, Boykin's three-point shot swished through, lifting the Eagles to a dramatic 55-52 victory over Delaware State that carried them into the tournament championship game.

Coppin (18-13) will meet Florida A&M, a 65-53 upset winner over No. 1 seed South Carolina State, at noon today, seeking its first MEAC crown since 1997.

"The game was tied and I didn't care who shot the ball," said Boykin, who was 4-for-25 in the tournament before the game-winner. "Raheem Scott unselfishly passed it up and passed the ball to me. I owed it to the team to put it in."

The finish was almost a reverse of the ending of Coppin's loss to Florida A&M in last year's quarterfinals, when Demarcus Wilkins hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to eliminate the Eagles, 55-53.

Coppin appeared to have matters well in hand after charging to a 13-2 lead and using its smothering defense to keep the Hornets confused and guessing on attack.

With big man Henry Colter (17 points, five rebounds) flourishing in close and Nicholas King (13 points) and Darryl Jones (10) playing strong supporting roles, the Eagles went ahead by as many as 15 points early in the second half.

But coach Fang Mitchell wasn't too confident at that point.

"I was worried about the second half because we had been there before with this team," said Mitchell, referring to a 67-50 loss at Delaware State when his team did not have a field goal in the final 10 1/2 minutes. "We find ways to let people come back."

Sure enough, the Hornets launched a comeback built primarily on three-point shooting by Miles Davis and Terrance Hunter. With 58 seconds left, Davis (14 points) connected from beyond the arc to push Delaware State (13-15) ahead for the first time, 52-51.

Subsequently, Boykin was fouled and he made only one of two shots to tie the score at 52. On the Hornets' final possession, Davis tried another three, but it was not close.

Coppin has won 10 of its past 11 games, prevailing last night without outstanding freshman Kelvin Green, who, as a Seventh-Day Adventist, is observing his religion's Sabbath. Green will not play in the title game, either.

The Eagles were fortunate to survive in the quarterfinals, as well, beating crosstown rival Morgan State in double-overtime, 68-65, after a late rally in regulation.

"We were willing to play as long as it took again," Boykin said. "Last year, we went through this on the losing end. It feels a lot better being on this side."

DELAWARE STATE -- Nathaniel 0-1 0-0 0, Hunter 2-6 2-4 8, Davis 3-7 5-5 14, Toth 0-2 0-0 0, Matthews 3-5 2-4 8, Roundtree 0-2 3-4 3, Williams 3-8 2-2 9, Hawkins 0-1 0-0 0, Bluntt 3-10 2-2 10, Postell 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-43 16-21 52. COPPIN STATE -- Yates 1-3 0-0 2, King 4-8 3-4 13, Boykin 2-9 1-2 6, Scott 2-4 0-0 4, Colter 7-10 3-3 17, Muhammad 0-2 1-2 1, Bradley 1-3 0-1 2, Jones 3-5 3-3 10. Totals 20-44 11-15 55. Half: Coppin State, 30-19. 3-point goals -- Delaware St. 8-22 (Nathaniel 0-1, Hunter 2-5, Davis 3-7, Williams 1-2, Bluntt 2-7), Coppin St. 4-11 (King 2-4, Boykin 1-5, Jones 1-2). Rebounds -- Delaware St. 30 (Matthews, Bluntt 7), Coppin St. 28 (Boykin 8). Assists -- Delaware St. 7 (Williams 4), Coppin St. 11 (Scott 4). A--NA.

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