1:00 PM ET, March 15, 2008
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Rashida Suber slashed down the lane and shot Coppin State back into the NCAA tournament.Suber's twisting layup with four seconds left Saturday lifted the Eagles past North Carolina A&T 72-70 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship game.She finished with 19 points and Danielle Anders added 18 for the second-seeded Eagles (22-11). They overcame a disastrous first half and let a four-point lead slip away in the final 50 seconds before rallying for their fourth league title and third in four years."We got back to where we needed to be," said Suber, the school's career scoring leader who led the MEAC in scoring this season. "We knew what we had to work on to get back here. We got here."Lamona Smalley had 18 points before fouling out for the top-seeded Aggies (25-7), and Amber Bland's wide-open 3-pointer from the left wing with 22 seconds left tied it at 70-all."When something happens like that, I feel like it's our game," A&T coach Patricia Cage-Bibbs said. "And that's what I told them. It's our game."Coppin State called a timeout, broke the Aggies' intense full-court press and worked the ball up high to Suber. She cut hard down the right side of the lane and flipped the game-winner off the backboard."I looked at the clock and just knew I had to go," Suber said. "Luckily, the defense couldn't get a block, and I had a chance to scoop it up there, and it went in."North Carolina A&T called a timeout with 3.8 seconds left and hurried the ball downcourt, but Jalessa Sams' 3-pointer missed everything."Coming down the court, we just didn't have enough time," Cage-Bibbs said.Whitney Cunningham had 15 points and 16 rebounds and Shalamar Oakley added 14 points for Coppin State, which has won 11 straight and 16 of 17, but needed an 11-4 run early in the second half to get back in the game. Neither team led by more than nine points."I almost didn't believe it," coach Derek Brown said. "Going uphill the whole game, and things didn't go our way. We were very out of character most of the game. ... We just had to fight, and they never really got any distance on us."Ta'Wuana Cook and Bland finished with 10 points apiece for A&T, which was denied the second NCAA tournament berth in school history and first since 1994. The Aggies, who were 15-1 against the MEAC during the regular season, won the teams' only other meeting 61-50 on Jan. 14 in Greensboro."Our minds were never on the WNIT. Our mind was [on] going to the NCAA," Cage-Bibbs said. "We wanted to get these kids there. They wanted to be there. That's one experience that they really wanted, and they didn't get it."Coppin State held a 44-29 rebounding advantage, overcame 30 turnovers forced by the Aggies' press and bounced back from a dismal start. The Eagles hit just two shots in an 11½-minute span of the first half and at halftime had nearly twice as many miscues (18) as made field goals (10) in falling behind 32-25 at the break."We probably played one of the worst halves that we've ever played this year, but I told them, 'We're only down seven points," Brown said. "So that tells us if we just go out and play our game in the second half, we can get back in the game [and] we can win the game."
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Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||27-56 (.482)||25-65 (.385)|
|3P Made-Attempted||3-6 (.500)||4-13 (.308)|
|FT Made-Attempted||15-20 (.750)||16-23 (.696)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||15 (0/0)||15 (0/0)|