Coppin State races to early lead in 80-61 victory at UMBC

Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell often can be difficult to please, but even he wore a big smile after Wednesday night's game against UMBC.

The Eagles quickly eliminated any suspense, scoring the game's first eight points and making their first eight shots from the field in an 80-61 victory at RAC Arena.

Michael Murray had 19 points and 13 rebounds to lead Coppin State (2-8), which snapped a four-game losing streak in the midst of a tough early-season schedule in which 12 of the team's first 15 games are on the road. That's one reason the Eagles made Mitchell so happy.

"I really thought that they played very well together," Mitchell said. "It showed the toughness, what we're going through right now on the road. I'm really proud of the way they played today. They did a good job."

Coppin State scored those first eight points en route to a 21-7 lead less than eight minutes into the game. The Eagles scored on every offensive possession for the first nine minutes, 15 seconds. UMBC (2-9) cut the lead to 27-21, but the Eagles scored five in a row and never led by less than nine again.

"We just came out real hot," Murray said. "Everybody was ready to go. We wanted to get this win. It's just really starting to click."

Murray, a 6-foot-5 junior forward, came into the game as Coppin State's top scorer, averaging 15 points with 10.7 rebounds per game. He made 8 of 12 shots from the field and had game-highs in both points and rebounds as UMBC couldn't stop him in the lane.

Freshman guard Sterling Smith also had a double-double for Coppin State, with 13 points and 12 rebounds. The 6-foot-4 Smith pulled down rebounds in traffic time and again, helping the Eagles finish the night with 36 of their 80 points in the paint.

"The last few games, I've noticed we're starting to play well together," Smith said. "This game, we just kept our foot on the gas pedal and took control of the game and kept control of the game. We're a young team and very inexperienced, and I think we're all starting to learn our roles."

Patrick Cole (13 points) and Charles Ieans (11 points) also scored in double figures, and the Eagles held a 41-31 edge in rebounding.

The Eagles also hurt the Retrievers with tough defense. They forced 14 turnovers and converted them into 27 points. UMBC couldn't find any kind of offensive rhythm, shooting just 35 percent.

It was the fourth straight loss for the Retrievers, who are off until traveling to Chicago to face DePaul on Dec. 22 . Ryan Cook led UMBC with 17 points, and Brett Roseboro had his third double-double in five games with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Acting head coach Aki Thomas is more concerned with UMBC's defense at this point, as they've been inconsistent at that end throughout the early part of this season.

"It helps when you can make a couple of those easy shots that we missed and you kind of get your confidence," Thomas said. "It would be better if we could get our confidence from the defensive end and keep that as our staple. It seems like we only play well on the defensive end when the offensive end is clicking."

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