The defense stepped up for Coppin State when needed last night as the Eagles defeated Division II Ohio Valley 96-79 at the Physical Education Center for their first win at home this season.
Coming into this meeting, Coppin State head coach Ron “Fang” Mitchell wanted his young men to focus on defense. Especially after giving up 102 points in last Monday night’s home loss to Wagner.
Fang stated about the defense, “I thought we did a little better job. But we still cannot allow 15 three-pointers in the game. We have to do a better job of recognition. That is what we have been working on. We talked to them, from the game, on who their scorers are. And we don’t find their scorers. So that’s going to be a problem if we continue that policy.”
Among the defensive highlights for the Eagles, they forced 25 turnovers for OVU, 15 were on Coppin steals. OVU (1-6) put up 37 of their 62 attempts from three-point range.
Offensively, Coppin State (2-2) shot the lights out. The Eagles converted over half of their shot attempts, hitting 32-of-62 from the field (51.6%) in the game. Sophomore shooting guard Sterling Smith led everyone with 21 points on the night while junior point guard Taariq Cephas followed with 20. They were among four Eagles who scored in double figures this night.
Fang said about the players, “I thought Sterling did a tremendous job for us. He hit some good shots for us. Taariq didn’t play as well as I wanted him to. I thought (junior point guard Daquan) Brickhouse played well. He took control of the team. [That’s] something that we are going to have to get from our point guard play. We’re looking forward to next game. Hopefully, Taariq can give me what I need.”
Coppin State started fast by scoring 12 of the first 15 points in the game’s first three minutes. They hardly let up on their way to a 47-33 halftime advantage. Coppin State endured a few runs from the Fighting Scots on occasion. However, the Eagles were able to rebuff their efforts on the defensive side of the ball. Coppin led by as many as 30 points (93-63 on two Van Rolle free throws with 3:09 left) in the second half before OVU made a rally towards the end of the game with their three-point shooting.
David Sinickas led Ohio Valley with 18 points. All of his points came from three-point range.
Next for Coppin State is a top 25 filled road trip when they visit Ann Arbor to take on the #22 Michigan Wolverines on Friday afternoon. Then they head to Spokane, Washington to take on the #11 Gonzaga Bulldogs on Sunday night.
Fang said about the roadie, “Well, it’s a tough one. We’re going on a weekend road trip against ranked teams in the country. So it’s going to be a tough battle for us. We have to come in ready to play and not have the lack of defense that we had today. We got to do a better job than what we did today.”