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2nd-half burst revives Coppin


After a damaging home-court loss to Bethune-Cookman on Saturday, Coppin State was pretty much resigned to playing for the second seed in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament.

With a two-game deficit to Delaware State and a defeat in their only meeting of the regular season, the Eagles' hopes of landing on top now appear slim.

So Coppin took care of one of its primary challengers for the No. 2 spot last night at the Coppin Center, pulling away in the second half for a 68-57 victory over Florida A&M.;

After a helter-skelter first half in which neither team performed particularly well, Coppin State (8-14, 8-3 MEAC) scored 20 of the second half's first 29 points - freshman Talmadge Bell accounted for 11 of them - to seize a 44-32 lead, and the Rattlers never got closer than seven the rest of the way.

It was the eighth win in the past 10 games for the Eagles, who are one game ahead of Florida A&M; (11-2, 7-4) and tied with Hampton (10-9, 8-3), which defeated Howard last night.

"We basically just attacked the zone," Bell said of the decisive stretch. "Coach [Fang Mitchell] said to find the openings in their zone and I got hot, so they just kept getting the ball to me."

Bell made three three-pointers and scored on a drive during the run, which was climaxed by a follow-up basket from Tywain McKee, who paced Coppin State with 21 points, four more than Bell.

The Eagles played the first 20 minutes as if they still had a hangover from their first home loss, squeaking out a 24-23 edge only because the Rattlers were even more woeful, committing 16 turnovers and missing six of nine free throws.

"That was terrible basketball," Mitchell said of the first half. "It was like we were on Saturday. I just wanted our guys to play with some confidence. It seemed like when the shots didn't go in, they dwelled on it. And we were playing too much one-on-one instead of making the extra pass."

Coppin State rectified that after intermission, shooting 51.7 percent from the field and taking over the boards. Darryl Proctor finished with a team-high 15 rebounds for the Eagles, who still were out-rebounded overall, 34-32.

"I think we were underestimating them at first because we beat them at their home [in January]," Bell said. "And everybody was mad because we were coming off that loss. So we came out thinking we could handle it."

Rome Sanders led the Rattlers with 18 points and preseason all-MEAC choice Tony Tate, a senior point guard, added 15.

FLORIDA A&M-Ballard; 3-8 1-3 9, Sanders 6-7 6-7 18, Tate 7-13 0-0 15, Kelly 1-3 0-0 3, Sams 0-4 1-2 1, Twitty 0-1 0-0 0, Greene 1-5 1-2 3, Adkins 2-4 0-1 4, Elliott 1-1 2-5 4. Totals 21-46 11-20 57. COPPIN STATE-Norwood 1-2 1-2 3, Proctor 3-6 3-5 9, Bell 6-14 0-0 17, McKee 7-17 4-4 21, Woodlin 0-4 0-0 0, Roberts 2-8 0-0 4, Otis 0-1 0-0 0, Miller 1-1 1-2 3, Harrison 2-3 3-6 7, Chesnut 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 24-58 12-19 68. Halftime-Coppin State 24-23. 3-point goals-Florida A&M; 4-12 (Ballard 2-3, Kelly 1-1, Tate 1-4, Twitty 0-1, Sams 0-3), Coppin State 8-25 (Bell 5-11, McKee 3-6, Otis 0-1, Woodlin 0-3, Roberts 0-4). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Florida A&M; 34 (Greene 8), Coppin State 32 (Proctor 15). Assists-Florida A&M; 14 (Tate 6), Coppin State 12 (Woodlin 5). Total fouls-Florida A&M; 18, Coppin State 16. A-819.

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