Bears spoil finale at Coppin Center

Morgan keeps rolling heading into MEAC tournament

Morgan State 68 Coppin State 62

March 06, 2009|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,ken.murray@baltsun.com

Morgan State got a tournament-type atmosphere in its regular-season finale last night and squeezed out a gritty 68-62 victory over Coppin State in a game that closed down Coppin Center.

A near-capacity crowd watched Morgan sweep the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference season series from its crosstown rivals and notch its second straight 20-win season under coach Todd Bozeman.

Reggie Holmes (St. Frances) had game highs of 23 points and 12 rebounds, and it was barely enough to keep the Bears (20-11, 13-3) in front of the Eagles (12-18, 9-7). In a game that bordered on a blowout even in the first half, Coppin got within three points, 63-60, with 23 seconds left on a jump shot by Tywain McKee.

Morgan converted five of six one-and-one opportunities in the final 18 seconds to preserve the win.

Holmes' effort leaped off the stat sheet for Bozeman.

"People say he's a scorer, but I think Reggie is the best rebounding guard in the conference," Bozeman said. "And he's actually become a better defender. When he does that, we're tough to handle."

The Bears go into next week's MEAC tournament with momentum - they have won 12 of their past 14 games - and the No. 1 seed. They were the No. 1 seed a year ago when Coppin came from nowhere to defeat them and earn an NCAA tournament bid.

Morgan dominated on the boards 41-25 and hit 15 of 29 shots in the first half. But Coppin's pressure defense forced 17 turnovers and kept the Eagles in the game.

McKee and Sam Coleman (Mervo) combined for six of 13 steals, a statistic that helped offset Morgan's huge advantage inside.

The Eagles led the MEAC in three-point field-goal percentage but hit only one of eight last night. That one, from Mike Buckley, came in the final 40 seconds.

McKee, Coppin's all-time leading scorer, was honored before the game. He scored 12 points and led the Eagles with seven rebounds.

Vince Goldsberry led Coppin with 14 points, including five straight field goals during a six-minute stretch late in the second half.

The Eagles played their final game at Coppin Center after 22 seasons. They move into a $100 million physical education complex arena next season.

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