AMES, Iowa -- A Coppin State team that has pulled off more than its share of miracles over the past eight years nearly had the tables turned on it last night.
The Eagles needed a Fred Warrick three-pointer and a last-second block by reserve sophomore center Tyran Watkins to stave off a miracle-like finish by Southwest Texas State for a 60-59 victory in the opening round of the Cyclone Challenge.
The late scare after Coppin led by as many as 19 points in the first half left Coppin coach Fang Mitchell shaking his head in disbelief as he walked off the court.
"Southwest Texas didn't get our attention until they tied us [53-53 with 5: 05 left]," said a still sweating Mitchell. "Then we wanted to win so badly we couldn't execute in the final minutes. Only two super defensive plays by Watkins in the last five seconds won it for us. But we did win the game."
Watkins, who is not used to the spotlight, only playing a total of 100 minutes as a freshman, said, "I needed to do something to help us win. I tried to steal the ball shortly before the block and finally was able to make the big play at the end."
Watkins did block 10 shots in his brief stints last year and turned out to be the right man in the right place for Mitchell last night.
Just four seconds before Watkins blocked the final shot, he nearly came up with a big steal at midcourt before Southwest Texas was awarded the ball out of bounds with three seconds on the clock.
Coppin (2-1) will be seeking its second win in five days over a rTC Big 12 school tonight against Iowa State. But the Eagles nearly threw away this opportunity with their second-half fade last night.
Coming off a 78-70 victory at Missouri, Coppin looked magnificent in the opening minutes against Southwest Texas State, running off to leads of 11-2 and 21-7 before peaking with a 28-9 advantage with 5: 43 left in the half.
With a 19-point lead, the Eagles apparently figured there was no way they could lose to the Bobcats (2-3).
Coppin's Antoine Brockington said: "We got the lead and we got comfortable. We felt we were a better team than Southwest Texas, but we got away from what we wanted to do in the second half. We wanted to take the ball inside but we didn't do it and Coach was yelling at us."
Brockington played with a sprained left wrist last night, but still scored a game-high 21 points.
Leading 35-25 at the intermission, the Eagles stopped getting the ball to Brockington after they built a 53-42 lead with 11: 18 left.
Danny Singletary took most of the Coppin shots from the outside during a scoreless 6: 31 stretch following a Warrick jumper that gave the Eagles the 53-42 margin.
Singletary was off-target most of the evening and wound up 3-for-15 from the field for just six points.
In contrast Brockington was 7-for-17 from the field, but didn't get back into the offense until the final minutes.
"This wasn't one of Danny's better games," said Mitchell. "He does a lot of good things out there for us when he doesn't score but this wasn't a good night for him."
While Singletary was shooting mostly blanks down the stretch, Southwest Texas State's Kenyatta Isable had come off the bench in the first half with a hot hand from three-point range.
Isable was all the Bobcats had to cheer about until the final minutes and he wound up 5-for-9 from beyond the arc and finished with 17 points to lead the school that lost to Minnesota in the opening round of the NCAA tournament last season.
Pub Date: 12/06/97