RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Coppin State women are beginning to resemble a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference dynasty.
They punched their ticket to the NCAA Division I tournament for the second straight year yesterday, fending off second-seeded Delaware State, 46-36, to win the MEAC championship at the RBC Center.
The Lady Eagles stretched their streak of wins against conference opponents to 29, including 21 this season. They are the first MEAC team since Howard in 1996-97 to go undefeated in the league.
All-MEAC guard Rashida Suber got Coppin (22-8) off to a flying start with 12 of her game-high 14 points in the first eight minutes, Coppin weathered Delaware State's biggest run early in the second half and then it steadily increased a two-point lead until the finish.
"We don't know what it feels like to lose," Suber said. "We went into this game with this mindset that we only had one thing to do ... win."
"She ripped them apart," Coppin coach Derek Brown said of Suber, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Performer. "It was important that we got off to a good start because we knew it was going to be a tough game. We knew we weren't going to walk away form them."
The Lady Eagles won the game with scant offensive production by MEAC Player of the Year Sherrie Tucker, who was held to four points. But the drive penetration of point guard Shalamar Oakley was a major factor, ending either with her own baskets or drop-offs to post player Tanezia Harden for layups.
Delaware State (21-9), which is 0-6 in championship games, made its most serious push with a 6-0 run that shaved Coppin's lead to 32-30. But after a series of miscues, an Oakley drive got her to the free-throw line for a point and a pass to Harden (12 points) restored order.
"She [Oakley] has the liberty to take it down the lane when she wants," Brown said. "For her to get to the foul line even that one time was important."
"She was hard for us to contain," Delaware State coach Ed Davis said. "She just took over for a couple minutes."
The Lady Eagles' defense was another key element. The Lady Hornets shot 20.8 percent in the first half and 27.1 for the game.
"We missed too many layups," Davis said. "We didn't capitalize on the turnovers we created late in the game."
All-tournament player Najmah Fauntleroy (Arundel) and Katreem Palmer each had nine points for Delaware State and Raquel Collier, the team's top scorer, was limited to five shots and eight points.
Coppin State informally dedicated the title to Tucker, the only senior starter.
"I knew it would mean a lot to her," Oakley (11 points, five rebounds, three steals) said. "She wanted this, to go out her last year with the championship."
"We're happy that we were the first champion in Raleigh," said Brown, referring to the first-year site after the tournament moved from Richmond, Va. "Hopefully, we'll be here for a good while."
DELAWARE STATE-Collier 2-5 4-6 8, Burbage 1-4 2-2 4, Smith 2-4 2-3 6, Palmer 4-11 1-5 9, Fauntleroy 4-15 1-2 9, Watkins 0-3 0-0 0, Adedoyin 0-0 0-0 0, Knight 0-0 0-0 0, Lusby 0-6 0-0 0, Edwards 0-0 0-0 0, Morgan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-48 10-18 36. COPPIN STATE-Harden 6-9 0-1 12, Oakley 5-11 1-3 11, Sutton 1-2 1-1 3, Suber 6-14 0-0 14, Tucker 2-8 0-1 4, Williams 0-2 0-0 0, Noel 0-2 0-0 0, Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Cunningham 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 20-49 4-8 46. Half: Coppin State, 24-16. 3-point goals: DS 0-6 (Burbage 0-2, Fauntleroy 0-4); CS 2-11 (Suber 2-7, Williams 0-1, Tucker 0-3). Rebounds: DS 31 (Fauntleroy 8); CS 39 (Noel, Oakley, Tucker 5). Assists: DS 5 (Fauntleroy 2); CS 9 (Sutton 6). Total fouls: DS 9, CS 20. Fouled out: Harden. A: n/a.