Coppin State pulls away for 80-67 win over Morgan State
By Todd Karpovich
For The Baltimore Sun|
Feb 02, 2015 | 10:22 PM
A thunderous dunk by Coppin State's Dallas Gary in the final minutes against Morgan State set off a raucous celebration inside the Physical Education Complex on Monday night.
The host Eagles finally got a win against the Bears after dropping the past six games in the heated series, dating back to 2012. Arnold Fripp scored 14 of his 22 points in the first half to lead Coppin State to the 80-67 victory in a nationally televised game on ESPNU.
"I think any win is big," Coppin State coach Michael Grant said. "It's always good to beat your cross-town rival. Because Morgan has had Coppin's number for a while, hopefully we can turn that trend around a little bit and keep it on Coppin's side for a little bit.
"I think these guys are confident right now, and we can beat anybody in the conference."
Gary finished with 17 points, while Sterling Smith had 12 and Taariq Cephas added 10 for the Eagles (4-18 overall, 3-6 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference).
Morgan State (4-18, 2-6) is ranked 345th in the nation in field-goal percentage (34.7) — the worst among all Division I programs. Those problems continued as the Bears were 24 of 70 (34.3 percent) from the field.
Blake Bozeman, who was making his 89th consecutive start, led the Bears with 20 points. Cedric Blossom finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Rasean Simpson had 11 points. Morgan State sophomore guard Torin Childs-Harris missed his second consecutive game with a concussion.
Coppin State leads the MEAC and is eighth nationally by averaging 9.4 3-point field goals made per game. But the Eagles were just 4 of 16 (25 percent) from beyond the arc against the Bears' aggressive perimeter defense.
Coppin State, however, never trailed, and a pair of layups by Cephas and another by Smith provided a 47-34 lead with 16:39 left in the game. The Bears finally found a scoring touch and a free throw by Simpson capped a 13-3 run that pulled them to within 54-47 with 11:09 remaining.
Morgan State stayed within striking distance as the Eagles were missing mid-range jumpers. A putback by Simpson cut the margin to 61-56 with 7:16 left. But Coppin State didn't panic, and a 3-pointer by Fripp and a layup by Gary provided some cushion with a 70-60 lead with just more than four minutes remaining.
"We knew this game we had to come out with more intensity because of the rivalry, and it was a big-time game," Gary said. "We had to jump on them first."
From there, Coppin State went on a 13-3 run, punctuated by Gary's dunk, to put the game away. With the win, the Eagles pulled ahead of the Bears for 10th place in the 13-team conference.
Morgan State missed their opening seven shots and did not score until Cliff Cornish made a short jumper with 15:52 left in the first half. Coppin State took advantage and a 3-pointer and layup by Fripp provided a 15-5 lead with 11 minutes remaining.
"I just came out and played hard," Fripp said. "This one was really good because they got us twice last year. It was good to get some momentum."
The frustration with shooting began to take a toll on the Bears. After coach Todd Bozeman was given a technical foul for apparently yelling at a referee, Cephas made the ensuing free throws to boost the lead to 25-14.
Morgan State was just 12 of 23 from the free-throw line.
"Obviously, they played with a lot of energy and I knew they would," Todd Bozeman said. "Clearly, we're having a tough time, and we're having a tough time making shots. Not making free throws is big. I told the guys we have to keep fighting."