WASHINGTON -- Allen Watson's statistics are not all that impressive, but the only numbers that matter to his Coppin State teammates are the seven straight victories since the 5-foot-10 junior assumed the starting point guard responsibilities on Jan. 9.
With the latest triumph, a 76-57 decision over Howard yesterday at Burr Gymnasium, the Eagles (10-8 overall) secured their hold on first place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference at 7-1, ahead of South Carolina State at 6-2 and Howard at 5-2. Coppin has beaten Howard six consecutive times and leads the series, 13-8.
Watson had one point, seven assists and seven rebounds, but his greatest contribution came with his pressure defense and by his easily breaking the Bison press.
"We have a lot of good players -- three first-team all-MEAC-ers. They do most of the scoring," said Watson, who started only one of his first 41 games as an Eagle. "My job is to keep everyone happy, run the offense, play good defense. My job is to get the ball into everybody's hands. I take whatever [points] I can get, [but] I get a thrill off somebody scoring off one of my assists. I'll take an assist over a point any day."
Coppin got back-to-back three-pointers by Keith Carmichael (a game-high 17 points) that gave the Eagles a 12-7 advantage 4:07 into the game.
Coppin took the lead for good when Kyle Locke netted a layup off Michael Thomas' feed and Carmichael drilled another trey for a 25-20 lead 7:14 before halftime.
Still, the Eagles didn't take control until small forward Sydney Goodman, the team's second-leading scorer at 14 points per game, recorded his first points, a left-side three-point jumper two seconds before intermission that sent Coppin into the locker room ahead 36-26.
Howard (6-11), which had won four of five before yesterday, could not pull closer than eight points in the second half.
Goodman "was pressing a little bit in the first half," said Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell. "We set up that shot for him at the end of the first half and that was crucial for his confidence."
After Phil Chenier's tip-in 1:04 after the break narrowed Howard's deficit to 36-28, Goodman connected on a three-pointer and a layup off a three-quarter-court pass from Watson to increase the bulge to 41-28.
Goodman finished with 15 points, one less than Stephen Stewart, who also had a game-high 11 rebounds.
"I basically don't like to force my shot in the first half," said Goodman. "I knew we had a second half, so why push it?"
Stewart scored the next six Coppin points with three layups that extended the Eagles' margin to 47-34 with 15:28 left. After a pair of Sean Turley buckets narrowed Coppin's advantage to nine points, the Eagles went on a 14-3 run that featured Watson. The first 11 points of the spurt came on four of his assists, and Stewart added two free throws after being hammered down low after a feed from Watson.
Thomas had seven points in the streak. "We've gotten more easy baskets with [Watson] running the ball up," said Mitchell. "He's still a key person, whether he scores or not. His job is to keep everybody involved and he's a key defensive player."
Coppin held the Bison to 35 percent field-goal accuracy (22-for-62) and out-rebounded them 46-21, including an 11-8 advantage on the offensive boards.
"I think this was a big win," said Watson, who averages 4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. "We're growing each game, but we still need to keep progressing, keep winning games."
COPPIN STATE -- Stewart 6-11 4-4 16, Carmichael 5-11 2-2 17, McGriff 2-2 0-0 4, Watson 0-3 1-2 1, Goodman 5-9 2-3 15, Robinson 0-1 2-2 2, Locke 2-5 0-0 4, Thomas 5-8 3-3 13, Saunders 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 27-54 14-16 76.
HOWARD -- Turley 4-12 0-2 10, Chenier 4-8 3-4 11, Crowder 2-11 0-0 4, Beard 5-12 1-3 12, T. Brown 6-10 0-0 15, Blackman 0-1 0-0 0, A. Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Dedmon 0-1 2-2 2, Gay 1-6 0-0 3, Ross 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-62 6-11 57.
Halftime--Coppin St. 36, Howard U. 26. 3-point goals--Coppin St. 8-14 (Carmichael 5-5, Goodman 3-3, Locke 0-3, Stewart 0-2, Saunders 0-1), Howard U. 7-16 (T. Brown 3-5, Turley 2-5, Beard 1-4, Gay 1-2). Fouled out--Thomas. Rebounds--Coppin St. 46 (Stewart 11), Howard U. 21 (Turley 7). Assists--Coppin St. 18 (Stewart, Goodman 4), Howard U. 5 (Turley, T. Brown 2). Total fouls--Coppin St. 15, Howard U. 19. A--1,052.