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Coppin State women’s basketball routs Morgan State, 67-47, to stay unbeaten in MEAC; Bears men edge Eagles in OT, 89-86

After a tough opening, Coppin State women’s basketball is beginning to enjoy the fruits of its labor.

The Eagles outscored visiting Morgan State, 40-12, in the final 17 minutes to cruise to a 67-47 victory Saturday afternoon at the Physical Education Complex Arena and continue their best start in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in a decade.

Coppin State (6-11) improved to 3-0 in the MEAC — matching the 3-0 start by the 2013-14 squad that advanced to the league tournament final that season — and remained the only undefeated team in the league after Norfolk State (12-5, 2-1) was surprised by Howard earlier in the day. The Eagles’ current run of success is a refreshing change after going 3-11 during the nonconference portion of their schedule.

“Withstanding the nonconference schedule and keeping a team together is tough, and you’re going to have some adversity, and you’re going to go through some things,” coach Jermaine Woods said, adding that he was never worried about his players’ mental toughness. “The teams that get through it in the MEAC are the teams that last until the end.”

Coppin State — which defeated the Bears on its home court for the first time since Jan. 20, 2018 — brought in six transfers and two freshmen, and redshirt junior shooting guard Faith Blackstone, a transfer from CCBC Essex, acknowledged that the players had to develop some chemistry.

“It can be hard just learning about each other, and it was expected a little bit,” she said. “But now we’re starting to learn about each other and starting to get comfortable.”

That comfort level seemed apparent when the Eagles used a 12-3 run early in the first quarter to enjoy a six-point lead at the end of the period. But Morgan State rebounded by outscoring Coppin State, 16-8, in the second quarter to take a 29-27 lead into halftime.

The Bears scored the first six points of the third quarter to go up 35-27. But an 11-2 burst gave the Eagles a 38-37 lead — their first since the score was 22-20 with 7:16 left in the second quarter — and they pulled away for their most lopsided victory since Feb. 27, 2016, when that squad pummeled Morgan State, 82-38.

Blackstone scored a game-high 16 points and compiled five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Junior power forward Laila Lawrence, a Texas A&M-Commerce transfer, collected her MEAC-leading seventh double-double of the season with 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.

Redshirt junior point guard Tyler Gray, a CCBC Essex transfer, racked up 13 points, nine rebounds and two assists, and redshirt junior shooting guard Tiffany Hammond, another CCBC Essex product, scored 10 points.

“We’re playing for each other,” Blackstone said. “So it’s important to have players who want to play for each and not just themselves.”

Junior power forward Laila Fair amassed 13 points, six rebounds and five blocks, and junior freshman point guard Tamaria Rumph chipped in 13 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Bears (6-12, 1-2), who dropped their second game in a row. Coach Edward Davis Jr. absorbed some of the blame.

“We made some adjustments that shouldn’t have been made,” he said. “I can simply say that they took advantage of those adjustments, and they scored. And once our kids got down and saw them get a lot of momentum, we kind of fell into the trap of not playing as hard.”

Morgan State men 89, Coppin State 86 (OT)

The Bears squandered a 14-point lead in a 75-74 loss at UMES on Jan. 6. Wynston Tabbs ensured they would not suffer a similar fate against the Eagles.

The redshirt senior shooting guard scored seven of his 24 points in overtime to help Morgan State (5-14, 1-2 MEAC) end a six-game losing skid and avoid its worst start in the league since 2014-15, when that squad went 0-11 in the conference.

Tabbs, a transfer from East Carolina who came off the bench for only the second time this winter, filled a void created when senior power forward Allen Udemadu (a season-high 24 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks) fouled out with 6:08 left in regulation and the Bears holding a 68-53 advantage.

“We lost a close game that time, and I felt like I could’ve shown my seniority to go get the ball, make less turnovers,” Tabbs said, referring to that setback at UMES. “And Allen went out. So I knew we had to get something working. So I’m just thankful for my teammates for getting me in position, and we got the job done.”

Coppin State outscored Morgan State, 23-8, in the final 6:08 — a burst capped by a 3-point prayer from halfcourt by freshman shooting guard Camaren Sparrow, a Baltimore resident and New Town graduate, that banked off the glass and through the hoop with two seconds remaining and tied the score at 76. Despite Sparrow’s heroics, Bears coach Kevin Broadus said he didn’t feel anxious.

“When a kid hits a halfcourt shot like that at the end, I told these guys, ‘Don’t put your head down. We’re built for this because we practice hard every day,’” he said. “The running paid off. We never were tired, and in the end, we never gave up. Guys stepped up. It was just a big team victory.”

Freshman point guard Ryan Archey came off the bench to score 22 of his game- and career-high 26 points in the second half and overtime for the Eagles (2-15, 1-2) but made a critical turnover that resulted in steal and two free throws by redshirt junior small forward Will Thomas (17 points and three steals) with six seconds left in overtime. Freshman point guard Aa’reyon Munir-Jones (15 points), junior shooting guard Greg Spurlock (14) and Sparrow (12) joined Archey in double figures, but coach Larry Stewart rued the team’s inability to protect a 34-23 lead with 3:17 left in the first half.

“This is the MEAC. This is how it’s going to be,” he said. “It’s a game of runs, and as long as you stay tight and stay together, you can come back. I thought we did a lot of great things out there today. We just came up short.”

Women

Coppin State at Norfolk State

Saturday, 2 p.m.

Howard at Morgan State

Saturday, 2 p.m.

Men

Coppin State at Norfolk State

Saturday, 4 p.m.

Howard at Morgan State

Saturday, 4:30 p.m.