SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Coppin State’s early season upset win at Oregon State earned the Eagles some notice. Coach Ron “Fang” Mitchell doesn’t necessarily think that’s a good thing.
“All that means is from this point on, everybody will play you tougher,” said Mitchell, who’s in his 28th year at the Baltimore school. “We have to have the mindset that we’re going to compete. You get no respect if you don’t compete. We got some respect at Oregon State, but I hope that wasn’t the end of it.”
By Mitchell’s estimation, the Eagles didn’t earn much respect in an 86-51 loss to No. 11 Gonzaga on Sunday night, their last outing before the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opener Saturday at Delaware State.
“They didn’t play the first half with the aggressiveness they’re capable of,” Mitchell said. “I don’t understand why. Maybe they were reading the other team’s clips, OK? We were playing not to lose.”
The Bulldogs (7-1) had generated a fair share of clips with a high-powered offense, but allowing 82 points a game in three days of the Maui Invitational allowed coach Mark Few to make the team’s return home into a lesson on rebounding and defense.
“Coach was harping on `Maui jet lag’ or whatever,” said guard Gary Bell Jr., “but we knew from our performances over there that we had we had to get after it better on defense, and that’s all about playing hard.”
Bell had 15 points to lead the Bulldogs, who posted their largest margin of victory this season despite not reaching the 90-point mark for only the third time.
Reserves Gerard Coleman added 14 and Kyle Dranginis 12 for Gonzaga, which broke the game open early and held the visitors to just 14 points in the first half.
Arnold Fripp and Sterling Smith had 10 points apiece for cold-shooting Coppin State (2-4), which lost to a ranked team for the second time in three nights following a 42-point defeat at Michigan.
Dranginis scored on a transition basket and a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to spark a Gonzaga surge midway through the first half that put the Bulldogs ahead 27-7. The Eagles scored just a single field goal in a stretch of more than 11 minutes, missing 19 of their first 24 shots, and trailed by 25 points at halftime. Twice the Bulldogs forced Coppin State into shot clock violations, and the Eagles barely beat the buzzer on several other occasions.
“That’s one of the best things that can happen,” Dranginis said, “them not even getting up a shot because you’re being so solid. Pretty much the whole emphasis tonight was bringing our own energy and playing great defense, because our points-per-possession on defense in Maui wasn’t nearly what we needed it to be.”
The Bulldogs also were beaten badly on the boards in two of their three Maui games and showed a little progress by outrebounding the smaller Eagles 45-32.
“But we’re still not rebounding way we’re capable of and certainly not the way our program has in the past,” Few said.
Coppin State made the first three field goals of the second half, with Fripp scoring a pair of baskets that got the Eagles back within 20 points. But they soon lost ground as Gonzaga’s first four baskets after halftime were 3-pointers, three of them by Bell. The junior guard was 4 of 9 from 3-point range as the Bulldogs shot 46 percent from beyond the arc and 50 percent overall.
“They were all great looks and you just have to knock them down,” said Bell, who is shooting 54 percent on 3s, “and with the low-post presence we have and guys penetrating, I’m going to keep getting those looks.”
Coppin State improved slightly in the second half to shoot 32 percent for the game. But the Eagles made just 2 of 18 from 3-point range.
“We can’t shoot 11 percent from 3, when that’s one of our strengths, and expect to win games,” Mitchell said.
Michael Murray, Coppin State’s leading scorer and rebounder from last season, played in just his second game after being sidelined with a broken finger. He finished with eight points on 4-of-13 shooting.
The Bulldogs improved to 125-8 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since the building opened in 2004.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)