After losses to two major-conference schools and a win over Division II Chestnut Hill, Wagner was anxious to measure itself against a team of similar pedigree.
On Monday night at Coppin State, Wagner got a fair fight in an up-tempo game, pulling away in the second half of a 102-87 victory in Baltimore.
Wagner was led by two senior guards, Latif Rivers, who scored 20 points; and Kenneth Ortiz, who had 12 points and 10 assists.
The veteran backcourt tandem had much to do with Wagner (2-2) being voted the preseason favorite in the Northeast Conference. On Monday, they guided an efficient Seahawks offense that shot 59 percent from the floor, hit 12 of 21 shots from beyond the 3-point arc and collected 23 assists on 35 baskets.
Wagner also got a boost off the bench from junior guard Marcus Burton, who hit five of six 3-point attempts on his way to 19 points before fouling out.
In a free-throw-heavy game, the teams shot 80 times from the line, with the Eagles shooting 40-for-47 on foul shots and the Seahawks going 20-for-33.
Coppin State (1-2) was coming off an upset win at Oregon State, a surprise especially considering the Eagles were without Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference first-team preseason pick Mike Murray (broken hand). Murray remained out of the lineup Monday.
Against Wagner, Coppin State didn't have the offense to keep pace, shooting 38 percent from the floor. Senior guard Andre Armstrong led the Eagles with 19 points, 11 of which came from the free-throw line.
Wagner took control early in the second half, going on a 15-4 run that expanded a two-point lead to 13. Rivers and guard Dwaun Anderson (seven points) opened and closed the run with 3-pointers. In between, Burton added a 3-pointer and forward Mario Moody (11 points) had wto dunks.
Midway through the second half, Burton hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, helping Wagner expand its lead to 18.