UConn remains unbeaten at home, beats Coppin State 72-59
STORRS, Conn. (AP) UConn’s top three scorers hit just 14 of their 41 shots and the Huskies turned the ball over 15 times against winless Coppin State.
But Connecticut held on to win 72-59 on Saturday, behind 15 points from Jalen Adams, 14 from Terry Larrier and 13 from Christian Vital.
”We’re not going to be sorry for winning the game,” said Vital. ”Would we like to have won the game in a better fashion? Absolutely. But that’s why it’s a long season. We’re student-athletes and we’re going to try and learn from this.”
UConn (7-3) dominated in the paint, outscoring Coppin State 26-16, outrebounded the Eagles 50-26, including 21-5 on the offensive glass, and getting 21 second-chance points to just seven for their opponents from Baltimore.
Lamar Morgan scored a career-high 30 points to lead Coppin State (0-10). Morgan, a junior college transfer, came into the game averaging just 5 points, but hit eight of his 12 shots, including seven of 11 from 3-point range. Morgan’s previous season high was eight points.
”He’s shown it in preseason; he’s shown it in practice,” said Juan Dixon, the former Maryland star who is in his first season coaching Coppin State. ”It’s just a matter of Lamar getting comfortable.”
The entire Coppin State team seemed comfortable early. KeAndre Fair opened the game with a 3-pointer and the Eagles scored the game’s first eight points.
UConn didn’t take its first lead until midway through the first half, 16-14 on a leaner in the lane by David Onuorah.
Consecutive baskets by Isaiah Whaley sparked the Huskies to a 12-0 run that broke a 20-20 tie.
Led by Morgan, Coppin State scored 11 of the final 15 points of the first half and trailed just 36-31 at the break.
The Huskies turned up their pressing defense and stretched the lead to 40-31 early in the second half, then held off the Eagles the rest of the way.
”We can’t allow a lot of guys to get their career highs against us and that’s the third game in a row that some guy’s got their career high,” said UConn coach Kevin Ollie. ”A guy coming in here averaging 5 points and gets 30? That’s something we want to take pride in and we have to cut that out.”
THE BIG PICTURE
UConn: The game was played in the first snowstorm of the season, making it hard for fans to make the trek to campus. As a result, the school decided to give free admission to students. The official attendance was just over 3,000, the second straight game at Gampel Pavilion that has drawn fewer than 4,000 fans.
Coppin State: Coppin State’s buses did not arrive at Gampel until after 1 p.m. because of the snow. The game was a homecoming for Coppin State’s Fair and Jordan Hardwick. The 6-foot-7 Hardwick is from Wethersfield and played at Springfield Commonwealth Academy. Fair was a star at Hartford’s Weaver High School.
A GOOD LOSS?
Coppin State’s 74-71 overtime loss to Central Connecticut in November was the only game in which the Eagles have lost by fewer points. The team’s average margin of defeat coming into this game was 24 points. They had dropped games by 43 points to both Cincinnati and Ohio University.
”I told them in the locker room, it’s not about wins and losses right now,” said Dixon. ”We’re building a culture. We’re building habits. If we continue to play with that kind of effort; we stay together, we share the basketball, we’re going to be a very good team come March.”
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
The win keeps UConn undefeated at home. The Huskies are 3-0 at Gampel Pavilion and 3-0 at the XL Center in Hartford. But all those wins came against mid-major teams. The Huskies next home game comes on Dec. 30, when they open their conference schedule against Wichita State.
Coppin State: The Eagles head back to Baltimore to play at UMBC on Tuesday.
UConn: The Huskies have a 12-day break for exams before hitting the road for games on Dec. 21 at Arizona and Dec. 23 at Auburn.