Larissa Carter scored a basket after a missed shot with 28 seconds remaining to give Coppin State a 57-55 win over North Carolina A&T in the semifinal of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament at The Scope in Norfolk, Va.
The third-seeded Eagles (17-13), will take on top-seeded Hampton in the championship game Saturday at 3 pm.
The teams went back and forth in the first 20 minutes. The game featured six ties and six lead changes. After Coppin State's Kyra Coleman's two free throws that tied the score for the sixth time, the Aggies (24-6), the second seed, closed the half with a 6-0 run over the last 2:01 to take a 31-25 lead at the half.
"It was a very hard fought game," Coppin State coach Derek Brown said. "It wasn't the prettiest, but I think it was very interesting for the fans; a lot of up and down."
N.C. A&T was able to build on the momentum in the second half, bolting out to a 41-30 lead over the first four minutes. The charge was led by DeAndra Davis, who scored nine of her 11 and Tracy King, who scored seven of her points.
Coleman, a first team All-MEAC selection, scored nine of her team's points.
From there, Coppin State turned to its defense and began to chip away at the lead. During a five-minute stretch, the Eagles held N.C. A&T scoreless. It then became a game of possessions and who would get the ball last and capitalize. Eboni Ross scored on a hard drive to the basket to tie the game at 55 with 52 seconds.
"Both teams went back and forth," N.C. A&T coach Tarrell Robinson said. "It comes down to Coppin wanting it a little more. Coach Brown is by far one of the best coaches in this league, and he did a good job of managing the game. His team did a good job of staying in it."
On the ensuing possession, Coleman got off a shot that missed and Janelle Lane was able to keep it alive and got it out to Carter, who hit the short jumper. The Aggies rushed a shot at the other end, rebounded by Lane, but she turned the ball over. But Coppin State clamped down on defense and forced an errant shot by N.C. A&T that missed as the buzzer sounded.
"We know how hard that we have worked for this opportunity," Coleman said. "We were down by 11, but the fact that we kept fighting and never quit was proof that we could do it."
Coleman led all scorers with 17 while King had 11 for the Aggies, and Davis contributed 11.
Coppin State and Hampton met twice during the regular season and the Pirates won both times.
"I think we have to slow them down," Brown said. "They are most dangerous in transition. They put Number 1 [Malia Tate-DeFreitas] and Number 0 [Kenia Cole] on the 3-point line and that makes them dangerous. We have to find a way to slow them down and put them in a half-court offense. We also have to be able to score. If we can score the basketball, which can slow them down."
Towson took control early and led by as many as four points, but College of Charleston took the lead when Jazz Green went 2-for-2 from the foul line with 14 minutes left in the half.
The Cougars led by as many as 13 in the first half.
The Tigers cut the lead to single digits in the second half but couldn't catch up.
Baltimore Sun staff contributed to this article.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun