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Coppin hits overdrive in overtime to knock off Norfolk State, 95-82; Defense, Warrick, Pena depose league co-leader


After allowing Norfolk State to shoot the lights out for 40 minutes, Coppin State put its opponent to sleep in overtime last night, picking up a key MEAC victory, 95-82.

In front of 1,211 at the Coppin Center, the Eagles outscored Norfolk State 18-5 in the extra period, allowing the Spartans to make only two of 13 field-goal attempts. The effort -- including 34 points by Fred Warrick and a career-high 26 by Dorian Pena -- allowed Coppin (8-12, 7-3) to join Norfolk State and Morgan State in second place.

"It was a tough game, I know our guys were tired," Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell said, explaining how Norfolk State's shooting touch might have disappeared after hitting 55 percent of its shots during regulation. He cited the Spartans' three second-half comebacks, including a 5-0 run in the final 1: 28 that sent the game into overtime. "It takes a lot of energy when you keep going down and coming back."

Tied 77-77 with 24 seconds left, Norfolk State (11-8, 7-3) had a chance to win in regulation, particularly with a disoriented Eagles' defense that should have been playing zone, but played man-to-man instead.

"Half of the guys were confused," said Warrick, whose points tied a career high. But Warrick blocked Damian Woolfolk's layup, and Will Brooks and Neal Roberts missed shots at point-blank range.

"We had 24 seconds to get three shots off in 98 percent shooting range," a disappointed coach Mel Coleman said. "When you don't take advantage of that situation, you can't win."

Having created its own reprieve, Coppin State dominated, scoring the first four points of overtime on free throws by Pena and a layup by Jorge Cajigas, then closing it out with four unanswered fast-break baskets.

Cajigas, Coppin's other double-figure scorer with 17 points, hit four free throws in the last 20 seconds to seal the game, which looked to be over at the beginning of the second half.

Pena, who also had 11 rebounds, hit a free throw with 19: 23 left to build a 41-31 lead for Coppin.

But that 10-point cushion started to wither immediately. Maurice Howell scored six points in two minutes, his basket at the 16: 50 mark bringing Norfolk State to within 43-41.

Woolfolk, who ended up with 29 points, had four during a 6-0 Norfolk State spurt that put the Spartans ahead, 64-63, with 7: 57 remaining. Still, he missed two free throws that could have helped stretch the lead.

Instead, baskets by Greg Hammond and Jerel Seamon, followed by a Warrick three-pointer with 5: 02 left, put Coppin ahead 70-67, a lead extended to five by Pena's jumper one minute later.

Though Cajigas' three-pointer with 1: 44 left gave Coppin a 77-72 lead and seemed to shut the door on the Spartans' chances, a pair of drives by Roberts and Dion Dove in the space of 30 seconds left the game tied at the 1: 04 mark.

"We were trying to contain them from being the explosive team that they were," Mitchell said of Norfolk State, which fell out of a first-place tie with South Carolina State (9-9, 8-2). "But they let loose in the second half, and we didn't take care of the ball as well as we're accustomed to."

Woolfolk, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference's leading scorer at 22.1 points per game, was living up to his advance billing in the opening five minutes, scoring nine quick points as Norfolk State took an 11-10 lead.

But Warrick scored seven unanswered points to give Coppin a 25-17 lead with 6: 23 left, and the Eagles led 38-31 at halftime.

For Norfolk State, Brooks and Roberts had 18 and 12 points, respectively, and Howell had 10.

NORFOLK STATE -- Roberts 6-14 0-0 12, Howell 5-5 0-0 10, Abney 0-1 0-0 0, Woolfolk 11-21 6-8 29, Winston 1-6 1-2 3, Perry 0-2 1-2 1, Dove 3-4 1-1 7, Brooks 7-13 4-5 18, Dawson 0-0 0-0 0, Neal 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 34-71 13-18 82.

COPPIN STATE -- Pointer 0-1 0-0 0, Pena 8-13 10-14 26, Sims 2-3 0-0 4, Cajigas 4-11 6-6 17, Warrick 12-22 5-6 34, Hamon 1-2 0-0 2, Seamon 1-2 2-2 4, Watkins 4-4 0-0 8. Totals 32-58 23-28 95.

Halftime--Coppin State 38-31. 3-point goals--NS 1-10 (Woolfolk 1-4, Winston 0-2, Roberts 0-2, Brooks 0-1, Perry 0-1), CS 8-21 (Warrick 5-12, Cajigas 3-7, Seamon 0-1, Sims 0-1). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--NS 30 (Roberts 8), CS 37 (Pena 11). Assists--NS 9 (Roberts, Woolfolk 3), CS 17 (Sims 6). Total fouls--NS 20, CS 17. A--1,211.

Pub Date: 1/26/99

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