In the end, though, the Eagles had their way.
Sparked by its scrappy defense and by a terrific performance from junior forward Stephen Stewart, Coppin State put away the Bears with a 14-0 run, then coasted to an 81-63 victory before 3,540 at Hill Field House.
Coppin (12-7, 6-0) won its 25th straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game, though the Eagles found a surprisingly tough foe in Morgan State (3-13, 3-6).
The Bears shot 53.2 percent and had four players in double figures. They led Coppin early, then continued to hit the open shots while staying close for the first seven minutes of the second half, before the Eagles erupted with a 14-0 run to take a 60-41 lead with 9:01 left.
"We're not playing the kind of defense we're capable of playing. I'm trying to be happy with this 18-point win but I'm looking for us to be consistent," Coppin coach Fang Mitchell said. "We played well in spurts. If we keep playing up and down, eventually it's going to catch up to us. Stephen came to forefront. I wasn't worried about him."
Stewart killed the Bears with his strength inside and his soft shooting touch outside. He made 11 of 18 shots, hit all three of his three-point attempts and finished with a career-high 33 points. He also converted eight of nine free throws and grabbed seven rebounds.
Stewart's 15 first-half points help pull Coppin out of an early 15-9 hole, as the Eagles recovered to take a 34-29 halftime lead. His 18 second-half points -- along with 13 post-halftime points from guard Keith Carmichael (16 points) -- doused Morgan's upset bid.
"We had our chances to put them away in the first half but we didnt' play with the usual intensity we usually paly with," said Stewart, who battled a stomach virus. "At halftime, we knew we had to put them away and I made up my mind I was going to be a big factor."
Coppin traded baskets with Morgan for the first seven minutes of the
second half. With 13 minutes left in the game, the Eagles held a tenuous 43-39 lead.
Then, Stewart took over. First he hit a three-pointer to make it 46-39. After the Eagles opened up the lead to 51-41, Stewart made four free throws and a layup to lead the Eagles to a 60-41 cushion. He converted a three-point paly a minute later and then capped up the night with his third three-pointer.
The Eagles made 10 of 25 three-pointers, with Carmichael hitting four of nine. Despite shooting 40.9 percent, Coppin made up for it by out-rebounding Morgan 40-31, by forcing 15 turnovers and by converting 17 of 22 foul shots (77.3 percent). Morgan missed 13 of 24 free-throws attempts and made only two of 10 three-point tries.
Chico Langston led Morgan with 22 points. Gerald Jordan had 10 points and 10 rebounds and Scott Deas scored 13. Terrance Wright added 11 points, although he missed
eight of 11 foul shots.
"Coppin State's execution was excellent. They play well when they get the momentum in their favor," said Morgan coach Michael Holmes, who drew a technical foul to fuel the Eagles' decisive 14-0 run.
"We can't control the officiating. We are trying to overcome the opponent on the court," Holmes added. "We get more calls against us in this conference than anyone else, especially in our gym. I'm sick of it."