NORFOLK, VA. – Senior guard Shawntae Payne hit a running layup with just 1.5 seconds left to rally the fifth-seeded Coppin State Lady Eagles to a 55-53 win over the South Carolina State Lady Bulldogs, the fourth seed, in quarterfinal action of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) at The Scope Arena in Norfolk.
S.C. State Coach Doug Robertson's team played the final few minutes of the contest without senior guard and leading scorer Tiara Knotts, who sustained a lacerated lip and had to leave the game. The Lady Bulldogs senior, who averaged 13.8 points per game, finished with just four points.
The Lady Bulldogs scored the first seven points of the contest and built a 26-15 advantage on a steal and layup by junior guard Ashley Clarke with 4:35 left in the opening half before Coppin closed the gap to 30-21 at the half.
Coppin opened the second half with a 13-2 run to grab their first lead of the game – 34-32– on a Coleman three-pointer with 13:34 showing. The Lady Bulldogs regained the lead at 35-34 on a three-pointer by sophomore guard Kourtney Williams with 12:30 on the clock.
There was one deadlock and three lead changes before S.C. State built a 50-45 advantage when Duren made one of two from the line with 3:01 remaining. Three free throws by Coleman with 2:19 left, pulled Coppin within 50-48 at the 2:19 mark.
S.C. State took a five-point 53-48 lead on a three-pointer by senior guard Cabriel Duren with 59 seconds left. A layup by senior guard Shawntae Payne pulled Coppin to 53-50 with 46 seconds left and Coppin took a timeout. Following a miss by the Lady Bulldogs, Coppin’s senior forward Leola Spotwood nailed her third three-pointer of the game to deadlock the contest at 53-all with 15 seconds showing.
S.C. State’s Clarke was whistled for an offensive foul on the Lady Bulldogs' trip down court, returning the ball to Coppin with eight seconds on the clock. The inbounds play came to Payne and she went the distance and banked in the winner. The Lady Bulldogs were unable to get off a last shot before the game time elapsed.
The Lady Bulldogs were led by Duren, who came off the bench with an 11 point contribution. Clarke and senior guard Trinese Fox had 10 points each in the loss. Clarke led the S.C. State effort on the boards with nine rebounds. Junior forward Cherisha Floyd had seven boards to go with three points for Coach Doug Robertson's team, which enjoyed a 46-39 edge on the board.
The Lady Eagles were led by senior forward Leola Spotwood who tossed in 18 points on 6-11 shooting. Junior forward Kyra Coleman added 16 points and Payne 10 in the victory. Coleman and junior forward Larrisa Carter grabbed eight rebounds each for Coppin State.
“I felt pretty confident with a five-point lead and a minute left,” said Robertson. “But, I guess I was a little too confident.”
The Eagles scored the game's final seven points to pull out the victory.
The Lady Eagles moved on to the March 15 semifinal against top-seeded Hampton at 12 noon, while the Lady Bulldogs’ season ended with 20 wins and eight losses.