Coppin extends season, will play at St. Joseph's


At last sighting, the Coppin State Eagles were hanging their heads after letting a late, five-point lead slip away in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament title game against North Carolina A&T.; The 66-64 loss denied the Eagles a chance to go to the NCAA tournament.

But last night, the Eagles (20-9) found out their season isn't over yet. The National Invitation Tournament committee included Coppin State in its 32-team field.

The Eagles will travel to St. Joseph's (17-11) for a first-round game on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

This marks the Eagles' fourth postseason tournament during the 1990s, and their second NIT berth. In 1991, a year after qualifying for its first NCAA tournament, Coppin State went to the NIT, where it lost to Southwest Missouri State. The Eagles returned to the NCAAs in 1993.

Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell could not be reached for comment last night. Mitchell interviewed last week for the soon-to-be-vacant coaching job at Florida International.

The Eagles owned the nation's longest winning streak at 17 games going into the MEAC final nine days ago. They also played their toughest nonconference schedule ever this year, losing at Oklahoma, St. John's, Kansas, Missouri and Kansas State, before beating Louisiana State and Ball State.

Navy, which finished 21-8 after losing to Colgate in the Patriot League finals, did not make the NIT field. Athletic director Jack Lengyel had offered to hold a first-round game at the Naval Academy.

"I'm really disappointed for Don [Devoe, the coach] and the team," Lengyel said last night.

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