Coppin puts away Towson, 71-57, with late run

After some early shots wouldn't fall, the Coppin State men's basketball team had to use a time-honored skill to solve Towson on Wednesday night: patience.

The host Eagles (4-5), behind leading scorer Tony Gallo (career-high 27 points), used a late run to defeat cross-town rival Towson (0-10), 71-57, in a nonleague game.

Marcus Damas led the Tigers with 16 points, and Robert Nwankwo added 15.

"We knew [our shots] would fall eventually," Gallo said. "We just had to turn the intensity up on defense. I knew once we did that, the offense would come."

The victory gave Eagles coach Fang Mitchell his 399th career victory. He will go for No. 400 when Coppin plays Charlotte on the road on Monday.

The Tigers took the early lead by relying on 3-pointers. Twelve of Towson's first 14 points came on 3s (two by Damas and one each by Alex Giergen and Kris Walden), and the Tigers held a 16-7 lead after a layup by Nwankwo with 11:41 left in the first half.

The Eagles started pressing and tightened up the defense. The result of the pressure was Towson going scoreless for 7:09 in the middle of the half. In the meantime, the shots started falling for Coppin, with the Eagles going on a 21-5 run to end the half and take a 28-21 lead into the break. Gallo led the Eagles with 10 points at the half, and Coppin took twice as many shots from the field (54-26) as the Tigers.

The Eagles outscored Towson 8-2 coming out of the locker room to run out to a 36-23 lead in the first 1:53 of the half, forcing Tigers coach Pat Skerry to call a timeout.

Towson continued to battle, cutting the deficit to 44-41 with 9:33 left on a layup and foul shot by Deon Jones. The Tigers would get no closer, as the Eagles went on a 15-6 run to make the score 59-47 with 4:31 left.

Mitchell attributed the victory to his team's tenacity.

"At this point, I've got to be happy [with the way we played]," he said. "We got a win, and we needed one badly. We played hard, and Gallo played well. We played the whole 40 minutes tonight."

The result extends Towson's losing streak to 29 games. The last time the Tigers won was last December, when Towson defeated La Salle.

"We turned the ball over 21 times, so we're a long way from where we need to be," Skerry said. "Our identity is to play hard and see who is good enough to keep."

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