Ellis lifts Coppin to 65-64 win over Navy

December 07, 2010|By Jeff Seidel, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Coppin State forward Akeem Ellis has been playing with more intensity recently.The 6-foot-6 junior said he was "slacking" a bit in the early games.

Navy certainly didn't think Ellis slacked off in Tuesday night's game. Ellis finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds and got the game-winning basket on a short jumper with 6.7 seconds left to give host Coppin State a 65-64 victory over the Midshipmen at the Physical Education Complex.

Ellis had scored just 27 points in his first four games, but has 20 in each of Coppin State's past two. He made seven of 12 from the field against Navy and hit several key baskets in a game win which momentum swung back and forth throughout the night.

His biggest basket was the last one, after Navy (4-7) had taken a 64-63 lead on a J.J. Avila layup with 28 seconds left. The Midshipmen hadn't been able to get the ball inbounds and called timeout. Avila then took a nice pass from O.J. Avworo for the easy basket.

Coppin State (3-3) tried to take the lead when Michael Harper took a shot from the left corner. He missed and Ellis pulled down the offensive rebound. Ellis then sank a soft 5-foot floater along the right baseline.

"I had to get it," Ellis said. "It went right to me. I knew we were down … and I wanted to go straight up [with it]."

Navy had one more chance, but Avworo missed a driving layup with two seconds left. The Midshipmen had beaten Coppin State on a basket with one second left in last year's meeting.

The Midshipmen appeared to be on their way to blowing out the Eagles in the early minutes. Navy likes to shoot from the outside, and the Midshipmen made four three-pointers in the first six minutes to take an 18-5 lead.

But Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell switched from a man-to-man to some zone defenses. The Eagles' 2-3 and 3-2 zones stopped Navy from getting some of the wide-open looks they'd been getting in the early minutes.

"This team won't quit," Mitchell said. "They keep fighting. We've got eight new people, and we're working on things."

Navy's Greg Brown (team-high 14 points) made two of the early three-pointers, but the guard picked up a second foul with 13:06 left and sat out the rest of the half. That hurt the Midshipmen.

Coppin State needed almost seven minutes to make its first basket. But the Eagles slowly began to roll as Ellis, Harper (12 points) and Tony Gallo (19 points) sparked them. The Eagles scored 12 straight at one point and took a 36-32 halftime lead.

Coppin State stretched the lead to 51-43 on two Ellis free throws with 10:03 left before the Midshipmen rallied for 11 straight points. The lead then changed back and forth in the final minutes until Ellis stepped up.

"We're always going to be in there," Navy coach Billy Lange said. "[But] we're not playing as solidly together as we need to play."

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