Lady Eagles earn place in first final in 12 years

Top-seeded Coppin edges Howard in MEAC, 74-69

College Basketball

March 12, 2005|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

RICHMOND, Va. - The top-seeded Coppin State women's team stormed into its first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference final since 1993 yesterday, but not without meeting strong opposition from No. 4 Howard.

In a crisply played game that included only 35 turnovers, although both teams unleashed almost constant defensive pressure, the Lady Eagles persevered, 74-69, to advance into today's 4 p.m. championship against Norfolk State, a 52-47 winner over Florida A&M last night.

Both No. 6 Florida A&M and No. 7 Norfolk State upset higher seeds in the quarterfinals.

Coppin (22-7) extended the school record for victories in a season and tied the school record for consecutive wins (seven) by depending on its inside forces, Leisel Harry (17 points, nine rebounds) and Dunbar High's LaKesha Wills (18 points, seven rebounds) to fight off Howard, which had administered one of its three MEAC defeats during the regular season.

"It was a tournament game, real March Madness," said Coppin coach Derek Brown. "Both teams played very hard and very well."

"Coppin was able to execute in spite of the pressure we put on them," said Howard coach Cathy Parson. "And we had to work hard for everything because they are extremely physical. I'm sad but pleased with my club."

The Lady Eagles took the lead at 18-17 on a layup by Wills and never trailed again, extending the margin to as much as 65-53 as Harry began dominating with 10 points down the stretch.

"We got stuck on this hump [semifinals] last year. We needed to get over it this time," she said.

Howard (17-12) kept at it, closing to 71-67 with 1:02 left before Coppin put it away at the free-throw line.

In her second game back from a late-season foot injury, Rashida Suber contributed 13 points off the bench for Coppin, which recorded 48 points in the paint to 22 for the Lady Bison.

"The game usually comes down to how hard and how aggressively you want to play," Brown said. "We did what we had to do down to the end."

HOWARD - Agee 2-7 0-0 5, Hicks 3-8 0-1 8, Jones 4-6 0-0 8, James 4-18 2-4 12, Benson 3-7 0-0 7, Johnson 4-6 4-4 12, Lacey 6-8 0-0 13, Smiley 1-2 0-1 2, Moore 0-1 0-0 0, Santee 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 28-66 6-10 69. COPPIN STATE - Plain 0-2 6-10 6, Sutton 2-5 0-1 4, Strickland 0-5 0-0 0, Wills 7-13 3-3 18, Tucker 4-12 0-0 9, Harry 8-12 1-5 17, Suber 6-10 2-2 16, Williams 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 29-63 12-21 74. Halftime - Coppin State, 36-31. 3-point goals - Howard 7-18 (Agee 1-3, Hicks 2-3, James 2-9, Benson 1-1, Lacey 1-1, Santee 0-1), Coppin State 4-9 (Strickland 0-1, Wills 1-2, Tucker 1-3, Suber 2-3). Fouled out - Hicks. Rebounds - Howard 41 (Jones 9), Coppin State 39 (Harry 9). Assists - Howard 9 (Hicks 4), Coppin State 19 (Strickland, Tucker 5). Total fouls - Howard 15, Coppin State 13. A - 1,005.

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