Mitchell kept his record against the Hawks unblemished with a rather routine 94-73 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory at the Coppin Center that makes Thursday's crosstown showdown with Morgan State a battle for the second seed in the league tournament.
South Carolina State, the defending champion, clinched the tournament's first seed by beating last-place Howard last night.
It was the final home game for four Coppin seniors, including high scorer Fred Warrick, who scored 31 points and captured nine rebounds to lead a resourceful Eagles' effort.
"I'm going to miss playing here," said Warrick, a 6-foot-5 swing man who was named to the All-MEAC first team earlier in the day, "and miss college basketball in general."
Coppin (14-13, 13-4) must win in Morgan's refurbished facility or enter the MEAC tourney as the third seed, an uncommonly low one since Mitchell became the Eagles' coach.
"Morgan is a winnable game for us," said Mitchell. "But it doesn't really matter where you're seeded. One seeds have lost. Two seeds have lost. You still have to go out and play."
"This conference is really competitive," added Warrick. "So, the seeding doesn't really matter."
The Fighting Hawks stayed reasonably close by rebounding well in the first half, but early in the second period their inability to hold on to the ball (24 turnovers) and Coppin's 50 percent shooting caught up to them.
With UMES behind 49-39, the Eagles soared away with a 13-0 streak sparked by 6-8 junior Kofi Pointer, who packed eight of his 10 points into the run. The issue was never in doubt afterward although UMES (9-15, 7-10) kept pecking away.
"We knew they were going to be aggressive and they kept coming. We stressed at half that we had to go out and meet the challenge [of the UMES pressure] and we did," said Mitchell.
In addition to Warrick -- second in the voting for MEAC Player of the Year -- senior center Dorian Pena made the all-league second team and freshman Rasheem Sims the all-newcomer team. Sims has been bothered by a foot injury and sat out again last night, but Mitchell said he will play against the Bears.
Mitchell was encouraged by the Eagles' 50 percent shooting from the field, balanced scoring (five in double figures) and good defense.
When the game ended, the teams departed by separate exits-- unlike the procedure in the past when both left by the same door. The former policy led to a scuffle among Coppin and Delaware State players Saturday night that escalated into a 10-minute melee also involving fans.
"That will be the way it is done from now on," said Mitchell, who is also the Coppin athletic director.
UMES -- Jones 2-7 3-5 7, Conway 4-9 2-2 12, Surprin 3-5 6-9 12, Reese 4-11 1-1 10, Wallace 9-17 0-0 20, Hoover 0-3 0-0 0, Reynolds 2-6 1-2 7, Christian 2-4 1-1 5. Totals 26-62 14-20 73.
COPPIN STATE -- Reavis 1-1 0-0 2, Pena 4-11 2-4 10, Seamon 6-14 2-2 16, Cajigas 4-9 3-3 14, Warrick 10-21 7-7 31, Pointer 4-6 2-2 10, Davis 0-0 1-2 1, Lee 1-1 0-0 2, Watkins 3-3 2-4 8. Totals 33-66 19-24 94.
Halftime--Coppin State 46-35. 3-point goals--UMES 7-21 (Conway 2-4, Surprin 0-1, Reese 1-3, Wallace 2-6, Hoover 0-1, Reynolds 2-6). CSU 9-22 (Seamon 2-6, Cajigas 3-6, Warrick 4-10). Fouled out--Pena. Rebounds--UMES 37 (Jones, Wallace 8), CSU 37 (Pena 10). Assists--UMES 8 (Christian 3), CSU 22 (Cajigas, Warrick 7). Total fouls--UMES 21, CSU 17. A--738.
Pub Date: 2/23/99