South Carolina State came into the Coppin Center as an angry basketball team last night. The Bulldogs were coming off a tough overtime loss at Morgan State on Saturday and didn't want to drop their first two Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference games.
Coppin State paid the consequences.
Thurman Zimmerman scored 26 points and pulled down 12 rebounds as South Carolina State took charge late in the first half and rolled to a 65-56 victory over Coppin State in a battle between last year's MEAC regular-season co-champions.
Coppin State (1-5, 1-1) now has dropped three straight games to South Carolina State (6-2, 1-1), which had won five in a row before the Morgan loss.
"They played hard and with aggressiveness and with desperation," Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell said. "We are not at that level right now and we have a long way to go."
The Eagles kept looking for ways to stop Zimmerman, a 6-foot-6, 235-pound senior forward who torched Coppin State for a total of 37 points in last year's two games. Zimmerman didn't even score a point or take a shot until he made a three-point play 8:25 into the game.
But he quickly made up for lost time, going 9-for-12 from the field and 8-for-11 from the line.
"I was trying to get my teammates to do whatever was [necessary]," Zimmerman said. "We feel there's nobody in NCAA Division I that can stop us when we execute on offense."
Coppin State had all kinds of problems executing on offense. The Eagles went just 19-for-60 (32 percent) from the field. They found numerous open looks throughout the game but couldn't establish a rhythm on offense.
Raheem Scott led Coppin State with 14 points and Darryl Roberts came off the bench to score 12 more. Those two combined to go 10-for-22 from the field, but their teammates missed 29 of 38.
"The numbers are self-explanatory," Mitchell said.
Coppin State stayed close throughout the first half, cutting the Bulldogs' lead to 28-27 when Roberts drilled a three-pointer with 2:08 left. But South Carolina State scored the final seven points of the half, capped by a Zimmerman layup for a 35-27 halftime lead.
The Eagles fell behind by 10 early in the second half but slowly tried to rally. However, Coppin State couldn't stop missing shots or making turnovers at the wrong time. The Eagles cut the lead to 46-42 with just over nine minutes left, but turned the ball over on their next three possessions and never drew closer than six again.
South Carolina State - which already has beaten Penn State and Miami this season - dominated with 32 points in the paint compared to Coppin's 20. That's where Zimmerman truly helped.
"I thought we played better tonight," said South Carolina coach Ben Betts Jr. "I thought [Zimmerman] played pretty solid the whole game. He's kind of our glue right now."
SOUTH CAROLINA STATE-Mason 4-10 1-5 9, Davis 4-5 2-3 10, Wiggins 5-11 2-3 15, Trapp 1-8 0-0 3, Zimmerman 9-12 8-11 26, Heath 1-4 0-1 2, Moore 0-2 0-0 0, Dean 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-54 13-23 65.
COPPIN STATE-Yates 2-6 1-2 5, King 2-14 2-2 7, Proctor 2-7 4-5 8, Scott 6-14 2-3 14, Colter 1-4 2-2 4, Roberts 4-8 2-3 12, Harrison 0-3 0-0 0, Daniels 2-4 2-2 6. Totals 19-60 15-19 56.
Halftime-S.C. State, 35-27. 3-point goals-S.C. State 4-19 (Wiggins 3-9, Trapp 1-8, Heath 0-1, Moore 0-1), Coppin 3-13 (Roberts 2-4, King 1-6, Scott 0-30. Fouled out-King, Colter. Rebounds-S.C. State 36 (Zimmerman 12), Coppin 42 (Proctor 12). Assists-S.C. State 13 (Heath 40), Coppin 7 (Scott 3). Total fouls-S.C. State 19, Coppin 24. A-955.