Eagles see Beard eat crow


WASHINGTON -- It was at Howard's house, but it's Coppin State's win streak.

After the Eagles stretched their dominance over Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference competition to 27 straight games with a 12-point win over Howard last Wednesday, Bison coach Butch Beard said Coppin State is "not that good" and guaranteed that the streak would end at Burr Gymnasium last night.

No chance.

Coppin State turned a six-point lead with seven minutes left into another MEAC rout, as the Eagles pulled away for a 79-62 victory. An audience of 3,231 and Black Entertainment Television saw Coppin State -- not Howard -- respond to Beard's motivational ploy.

"As any team should, we took what he [Beard] said personally," said Sidney Goodman, the Eagles' gritty junior guard. "Before we ever read anything in the newspaper, we were already thinking of this game."

Coppin State (15-7, 9-0) actually exceeded its average MEAC margin of victory by 14.9 points. As Beard discovered, the Eagles' status as favorites to win their second straight title and third in five years is more valid than ever.

"They're better than I thought," said Beard, who saw his team drop to 8-10, 5-4. "Wednesday night, we should have won, but tonight they kicked our butts. I said some things thinking it would get our guys up. There's no excuse. They [Howard players] weren't ready to accept the challenge."

Goodman guided Coppin State with 20 points, five steals and five assists. The Eagles' other stellar junior guard, Keith Carmichael, had a game-high 26 points on six-of-eight shooting from three-point range. Stephen Stewart added 12 points, and Michael Thomas had nine rebounds.

The Bison, which got 17 points and 13 rebounds from 7-foot center Grady Livingston, were down 64-52 with 9:31 left, but they scored six straight to close to 64-58 heading into the final seven minutes.

But the Eagles showed their mettle by limiting Howard to a single basket over the next seven minutes, going on a 14-2 run.

Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell said his team "didn't pay much attention to" what Beard said after Wednesday's game.

"The comments were directed at Butch's team, not ours, but our kids took care of business," he said. "I think the [MEAC] streak is affecting other teams more than it's affecting us. The pressure's them to beat us. Our kids want to win every night, and that keeps them going."

Coppin State's last loss to a conference opponent came in the quarterfinals of the 1992 MEAC tournament, when it was beaten by South Carolina State. The Eagles will try to extend their MEAC streak to 29 games tomorrow against Morgan State. It's the first of three straight games at Coppin Center.

Last night, the Eagles' inside game was shut off, but Carmichael and Goodman owned the perimeter. Donnail Diggs got the Bison within 49-46 with 14:39 remaining, but Carmichael had three three-pointers during a five-minute, 15-6 run that gave Coppin State a 64-52 lead with 9:31 left.

The Eagles' third 7-0 run of the game put them on top 47-37 two minutes into the second half, and their defensive work was crucial after intermission. Howard could muster only one basket in the first 4:45 of the second half.

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