Post-game melee mars victory by Coppin over Delaware State; Hornets coach blames refs for fan-player encounter


A melee broke out among fans and Coppin State and Delaware State players following the Eagles' 74-63 win at the Coppin Center last night.

No one was seriously injured in the disturbance, which Delaware State coach Jimmy DuBose said was triggered by permissive officiating by the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference crew of Verle Caldwell, Dwayne Gladden and Bob James.

"The game was completely out of control the elbowing, the kicking, the punching and the scratching," DuBose said after his team fell to 7-17 (4-14 MEAC) despite 16 points from Marty Bailey. "If it had stopped in the first half, we wouldn't have had this problem."

DuBose said he narrowly missed getting hit in the head by a punch from Coppin guard Jorge Cajigas, who denied starting the fight while not denying participation.

"We're a team; you gotta do what you gotta do," said Cajigas, who finished with 15 points and four assists and had five points during a crucial second-half stretch when the Eagles (13-13, 12-4) dashed any Hornets hopes of a comeback.

While DuBose spoke of the post-game incident in tones of increasing volume, Coppin coach Fang Mitchell downplayed the incident.

"When you win, you walk out," Mitchell said. "That's all I can tell you. We walked out and there were problems."

The fight overshadowed the fact that the Eagles stayed in second place in the league behind South Carolina State by overcoming 28 percent shooting in a first half that ended with Delaware State leading, 27-22.

"Some of us didn't come to play and it created an ugly first half," Mitchell said of his team, which took the lead for good with 15: 50 left on a layup by Dorian Pena, who finished with 17 points and nine rebounds.

Delaware State, trying to build on its first four-game winning streak in six seasons, stayed in contention for most of the game, closing to within 51-48 on a three-pointer by Stefan Malliet with 7: 41 remaining.

With Coppin up 56-51 and 6: 05 left, the Hornets had a chance to cut the lead to three points after Terence Hood stole the ball from the Eagles' Jerel Seamon and passed it up court to Brandon Calvert. But with a three-on-one fast break, Calvert chose to take a running one-hander that missed.

On the other end, Fred Warrick (19 points) was alone in the left corner for a three-pointer that started an 8-0 run and put Coppin into cruise mode, save for a rough foul or two, which was not out of character for this game.

The final rough foul was committed with 11 seconds remaining by reserve guard Brian Butler on Pena, who earlier earned a technical for stepping on a Delaware State player.

Butler, who was disqualified on the play with his fifth foul, was said to be pointing his finger in a menacing manner at Pena when he left the court.

When asked about a possible slow response by security guards at the gymnasium, Mitchell said, "I'm the basketball coach and the athletic director. All I do is make sure we have security."

DELAWARE STATE -- Robinson 2-5 1-2 5, Calvert 0-1 1-2 1, Malliet 3-10 7-8 14, Bailey 6-8 1-2 16, Hood 3-7 7-8 15, Butler 2-8 0-0 4, Clarke 2-6 0-0 4, Piper 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 20-49 17-22 63.

COPPIN STATE -- Pointer 3-7 2-2 8, Pena 6-8 5-8 17, Seamon 4-11 4-4 13, Cajigas 4-7 6-7 15, Warrick 5-12 8-8 19, Hamond 0-1 0-0 0, Reavis 0-0 0-0 0, Lee 0-2 0-0 0, Watkins 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 22-49 27-31 74.

Halftime--Delaware State 27-22. 3-point goals--Delaware State 6-18 (1-7, Bailey 3-4, Hood 2-4, Butler 0-2, Clarke 0-1), Coppin State 3-16 (Pointer 0-1, Seamon 1-5, Cajigas 1-4, Warrick 1-5, Lee 0-1). Fouled out--Delaware State (Butler). Rebounds--Delaware State 24 (Calvert 5), Coppin State 32 (Pena 9). Assists--Delaware State 9 (Malliet 3), Coppin State 9 (Cajigas4). Total fouls--Delaware State 25, Coppin State 18. A--2,434.

Pub Date: 2/21/99

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