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Coppin State's win streak hits 12


Until recently, Coppin State had a tendency to play down to the level of its inferior Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference competition before putting away victories.

However, with the MEAC tournament approaching, not to mention an anticipated berth in the NCAA tournament, the Eagles have been taking care of business more efficiently lately.

Bethune-Cookman was the latest MEAC punching bag to get bruised early and often by the Eagles.

Last night, Coppin State pretty much had its way with the overmatched Wildcats as the Eagles broke open a respectable game in the second half, then cruised to a 95-76 victory before 725 at the Coppin Center.

The result was nothing new for the Eagles (18-7, 12-0).

They won their 12th straight game to extend the longest winning streak in the nation. It also marked Coppin State's 20th consecutive victory at home and 31st straight win in the MEAC.

Junior guard Sidney Goodman led the way for Coppin State with a career-high 31 points, which included five-of-seven shooting from three-point range and a 10-for-11 performance at the free-throw line.

"When I hit a three-pointer off the backboard in the first half, I felt like it might be my night," said Goodman, who had six assists, four steals and committed only one turnover in 33 minutes.

"This is crunch time. We have to find some way to grow with each and every game. One more notch, and I think we'll be where we want to be," he added. "You have to have that knockout punch. You have to put teams away early to take away their confidence."

"Sid has been playing extremely well for us," Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell said. "In the last four or five games, I think he's got six turnovers. Today, he really came through offensively."

To its credit, Bethune-Cookman didn't fold. After the Eagles, sparked by Goodman's 13 first-half points, took a 26-13 lead in the opening 10 minutes, the Wildcats staged an 11-4 run to pull to within 41-31 at halftime.

And after Goodman and guard Keith Carmichael (20 points, 4-for-6 from three-point range) each hit two threes to help the Eagles pull away to a 78-52 lead with 8:15 left in the game, the Wildcats used the three-pointer -- they hit 10 of 21 -- to close the gap to 85-72 with 2:04 left.

Still, the game was never in doubt.

The Eagles' defense turned up its intensity to force 18 turnovers and limit Bethune-Cookman to 39 percent shooting from the field.

And when Goodman and Carmichael weren't lighting up the Wildcats, Coppin State forwards Stephen Stewart (12 points, five assists), Michael Thomas (10 points, game-high eight rebounds) and Mario McGriff (10 points) were pushing around the smaller Wildcats in the paint.

Lately, the Eagles have looked like a team priming for the postseason. Including last night, Coppin State has won its last four games by a combined 118 points. The Eagles also were coming off a 99-47 victory over Florida A&M;, in which the Eagles held the Rattlers to 19 second-half points.

"We've been putting a lot of pressure on teams. Lately, we've been getting off to good starts. I'm seeing us play up to our capabilities more," Mitchell said.

The Eagles started strong, then finished stronger last night. In the first half they converted a solid 51.9 percent of their shots, including three of six from three-point territory. After halftime, Coppin State torched the Wildcats, making 64 percent of its shots, including six of nine from beyond the arc.

Lamont Parrish led Bethune-Cookman with 19 points. Latroy Strong added 17.

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