On a night when scoring leader Terquin Mott was saddled with early foul trouble and held to nine points, Coppin State showed last night that it had more than enough offensive weapons to humble Delaware State.
Sophomore Kareem Lewis, who sat out last year as a Proposition 48 student, more than filled the void for Mott.
Lewis, an agile 6-foot-7 native of Brooklyn, N.Y., scored a career-high 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds, leading the Eagles to a 90-77 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory.
"Mott just didn't have his head in the game tonight. He was jusout there, taking up space," said Coppin coach Fang Mitchell.
"It was a classic example of a young player getting an opportunity and making the most of it," Mitchell added, referring to Lewis.
"I knew he could score, but he was going to have to earn more minutes by playing better defense and rebounding."
Said Lewis: "Last year, I weighed close to 275. Coach Mitchell told me he wanted me to lose at least 30 pounds. I'm down to 245 now, and I know it's helped my quickness."
Although Delaware State enjoyed a size advantage at center in 6-9, 250-pound junior Chris Nurse, he could not defend the quicker Lewis on the baseline. Lewis provided 13 points in sparking the Eagles to a 46-23 halftime lead, and continued to score at will in the second half.
A desperate rally by the Hornets (8-15, 7-7) in the last four minutes reduced a 19-point deficit to 85-77 with a minute left. But a layup and a pair of free throws by Coppin junior forward Reggie Welch (25 points) ended any hope of a miraculous comeback.
The victory stretched Coppin State's home winning streak to 39, the longest in the nation. It also kept the Eagles (14-8, 11-1) tied for the MEAC lead with South Carolina State.