But last night at the Coppin Center, it took the Eagles less than 10 minutes to take command in coasting to their 10th straight victory, 88-66, before 1,003.
Art Perry, making his head coaching debut at Delaware State after 24 years as an assistant, including the last six at Maryland, said he would stress strong man-to-man defense in trying to revive a struggling basketball program.
But the Hornets' defense was almost nonexistent against the fast-breaking Eagles, who scored with little resistance in transition or their halfcourt offense.
Junior shooting guard Antoine Brockington (10-for-13) went unchallenged on the perimeter in scoring a game-high 25 points.
Coppin's post-up players -- Terquin Mott (17 points, nine rebounds) and Kareem Lewis (18 points) also had their way inside.
"We didn't have much fight in us tonight," said Perry, who saw his Hornets (3-17, 3-9) lose their sixth straight. "Defense has been our strong suit this season, but we just came back from a 12-hour bus trip to South Carolina State and didn't have time to practice."
But Brockington saw another reason for the blowout.
"When we played them last week, we looked at their record and took them for granted," he said. "This week, Coach [Fang] Mitchell said we could make it a lot easier on ourselves by playing tough defense from the get-go."
The strategy worked as the Hornets to 37 percent shooting.
"Things were happening too easy for us," said Coppin coach Fang Mitchell, whose club jumped to a 43-22 halftime lead. "But I see signs of us becoming more disciplined and patient on offense. By tournament time, I think the team will be where I want us to be."
For the second straight game, Mitchell was able to empty his bench in the closing minutes.
The biggest cheer came when Joe Allen, a lanky 6-foot-9 freshman walk-on from Largo who has his own fan club, scored his first points of the season on a pair of free throws with 64 seconds left.
(Box score, 7D)
Pub Date: 2/13/97