Carmichael back on target, lifts Coppin over Ball State, 76-75

THE BALTIMORE SUN

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Coppin State senior guard Keith Carmichael picked an opportune time to regain his shooting touch, and it enabled the Eagles to leave the Oldsmobile Spartan Classic with a split.

Carmichael came back from a poor shooting performance one night earlier and connected on two key three-point shots that lifted the Eagles to a 76-75 win over Ball State in last night's consolation game of the Oldsmobile Spartan Classic at Michigan State's Breslin Center.

The Eagles are 3-6 during a grueling early schedule, which puts them on the road in 12 of their first 13 games.

"It was a real big win for us, considering we have been on the road so long," said Coppin coach Fang Mitchell. "This was a winnable game for us, and we had to have it. To go out of here 2-7 would have been tough on us.

"The road is rough. Anytime you can win on the road, you're happy."

Trailing 55-50 last night, Coppin State received two unanswered three-pointers by Carmichael midway through the second half to take a lead the Eagles managed to hold on to through the final 10 minutes.

In a 69-63 loss to Long Beach State on Thursday, Carmichael scored five points and was 2-for-8 from the field. He finished with 18 points yesterday, including 4-for-7 from beyond the three-point line.

"We've been waiting for him to get it going, and it came at a crucial time," Mitchell said. "They got a run going, and we needed the baskets badly. There's no better shooter when he gets his confidence going."

In the game's final minute, Ball State's Marcus Norris connected on a three-point shot and converted a three-shot foul to pull the Cardinals within a point of the Eagles.

A Coppin State turnover and two missed free throws by Sidney Goodman gave Ball State two chances to take a lead. But the Cardinals were called for an offensive foul and traveling.

"Down the stretch, it was tough," Mitchell said. "We made some bad decisions. I was relieved when the final alarm went off."

Goodman matched Carmichael's 18-point performance to lead Coppin State. Michael Thomas added 14 and Stephen Stewart 13 for the Eagles. Steve Payne led Ball State (3-5) with 26 points, and Norris finished with 21.

"We were really excited about getting a win, but Coppin State did a good job and their experience showed through," said Ball State coach Ray McCallum. "Our defense got us back in the game, but down the stretch, their seniors made the plays."

Coppin State jumped out to an early lead and had a 30-18 advantage with 11:30 left in the half. Ball State, behind Payne's 13 first-half points, came back with an 11-0 run and took its first lead of the game on a three-pointer by Norris.

The Eagles eventually regained the lead on Tariq Saunders' first basket of the tournament and went into halftime with a 40-37 lead.

Saunders entered the tournament 10 points shy of becoming the fourth Coppin State player this season to score his 1,000th career point. After being shut out against Long Beach State, Saunders scored one basket against Ball State and needs eight more points to join his teammates in the 1,000-point club.

BALL STATE -- Gregory 5-13 2-4 12, Wells 5-11 1-4 12, Reed 0-2 0-0 0, Zachary 0-2 0-0 0, Norris 6-13 5-6 21, Payne 11-12 4-6 26, Thompson 1-4 1-2 4, C. Smith 0-2 0-0 0, S. Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Rogers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-59 13-22 75.

COPPIN STATE -- Locke 0-4 0-0 0, Stewart 4-8 4-6 13, Thomas 7-9 0-0 14, Goodman 6-13 5-8 18, Carmichael 5-9 4-6 18, Robinson 0-1 0-0 0, McGriff 3-5 1-3 7, Watson 2-2 0-1 4, Saunders 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 28-56 14-24 76.

Halftime--Coppin 40, Ball St. 37. 3-point goals--Ball St. 6-16 (Norris 4-7, Thompson 1-3, Wells 1-4, Zachary 0-1, C. Smith 0-1), Coppin 6-20 (Carmichael 4-7, Stewart 1-3, Goodman 1-5, Robinson 0-1, Saunders 0-1, Locke 0-3). Fouled out--Thomas. Rebounds--Ball St. 39 (Gregory 11), Coppin 28 (McGriff 7). Assists--Ball St. 18 (Norris 6), Coppin 15 (Goodman 5). Total fouls--Ball St. 20, Coppin 19.

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