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Coppin wins showdown with S.C. State in OT Eagles blow 18-point edge but pad MEAC lead to 1 1/2


Before last night, the distance between Coppin State and South Carolina State at the top of the Mid-Eastern Athletic

Conference standings was a mere half-game. The final score between these teams figured to be close, as well.

For a while, that didn't appear likely. The Eagles built an 18-point lead in the second half, lost it, and needed a tip-in by sophomore Fred Warrick with seven seconds left to send the game into overtime.

From there, the Eagles outscored South Caroline State 10-5and moved closer to at least a share of their fifth straight regular-season league title with a 75-70 victory at the Coppin Center.

Senior forward Terquin Mott, returning from a one-game suspension, scored four of his 20 points in the extra session. Junior guard Antoine Brockington added 16 points, including four in overtime, and senior forward Reggie Welch, back after missing eight games with a broken hand, had 14.

The Eagles (16-8, 13-3) are 1 1/2 games in front of South Carolina State (12-11, 11-4) with two remaining, Wednesday at North Carolina A&T; and March 1 against UMES.

"Here's a major example of how life's endeavors are with young people, when they choose to do certain things, and sometimes they make bad decisions," said coach Fang Mitchell, who won his 199th game at Coppin. "Tonight, they decided they had enough points and didn't have to play anymore and started doing things like turning the basketball over and going &r; one-on-one and not playing defense. You combine those things, you've got problems. We're very fortunate to win."

The Eagles had lost three of the previous four games against South Carolina State, including a 92-88 defeat last month in Orangeburg, when the Bulldogs' Roderick Blakney scored 34 points.

Blakney, a 5-foot-10 junior guard who most likely will be named the MEAC's Player of the Year, had 27 points last night -- five

above his season's average -- before fouling out with 13 seconds left in overtime.

Cold shooting to open the second half looked as if it would doom the Bulldogs. They made only two field goals in the first six minutes, and Blakney didn't score until 8: 40 had elapsed. His basket drew South Carolina State within 49-38, but Welch hit from beyond the arc, lobbed a pass to Mott for a dunk and made a steal and layup.

South Carolina State outscored the Eagles 27-9 during the last 10 minutes of regulation. The Bulldogs took the lead for the first time since early in the game, 65-63, on a drive by Rayner Moore with 1: 10 left, but Warrick put back a missed jumper in the lane by Mott, and Blakney was called for traveling while being triple-teamed as the buzzer sounded.

"That's two games in a row we've allowed a second shot at the end of regulation to either beat us or send the game into overtime," said South Carolina State coach Cy Alexander, whose team was coming off a 70-69 loss to North Carolina A&T; on Saturday. "Give Coppin credit, I thought they played very hard. But our kids showed a lot of character and a lot of guts coming back."

Pub Date: 2/21/97

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