BALTIMORE–It was a game of runs in the first half for both the Coppin State Lady Eagles and the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Rams. But in the second half, the Rams got going while the Coppin offense struggled in VCU’s 57-46 victory over the Lady Eagles on Dec. 8 at Coppin State’s PEC in Baltimore, Md. This was the third consecutive loss for the Lady Eagles.

VCU had to face some trapping defense from the Lady Eagles early in the game and ran into some trouble. With 4:23 remaining in the first half and Coppin trailing 23-13, the Lady Eagles put the trapping defense on and forced turnovers. That led to a 12-0 run on a couple of three-pointers by sophomore point guard Shanice Maynard and hard drives to the bucket by junior small forward Kyra Coleman, including a lay-up with 1:23 left to give CSU a 25-23 advantage. The game was tied at 27 at halftime.

It was nip and tuck early in the second half before things started unraveling for Coppin State (3-6). Coming into the game, VCU freshman guard Jessica Pellechio was one of the young ladies to look out for according to Coppin State head coach Derek Brown along with junior guard/forward Robyn Parks from Waldorf, Md.

Both women began to make their presence felt in the second half. After Coleman tied the game up at 36 on a lay-up with 13:22 left, Pellechio snapped out of her shooting funk by making three-consecutive three-point baskets.

The last of her three-point baskets gave the Rams a 45-40 lead with 10:40 left. VCU (5-4) would not relinquish that advantage anymore. VCU head coach Marlene Stollings said about Pellechio’s long range shots, “We always tell (Jessica) to just keep shooting because we know it’s going to go in eventually. She’s very good about that. Jessica just kept letting it fly and got hot in a little stretch which obviously helped.”

“In the beginning of the game, we talked about (Pellechio and Parks),” Brown said. “At halftime, we talked about Pellechio especially because she didn’t make shots in the first half. So we said that we got to pay attention to her. Now I thought that we were there, but we never got a hand on her. We played Pellechio basically for a drive instead of her jumper.”

VCU was able to figure a way out of Coppin’s traps in the second half.
“It was just being aggressive. In the first half, we were very lackadaisical with the ball (in terms of our passing),” said Parks, who led the way with 19 points. “Being real casual. But in the second half, we picked up our aggressiveness.”

Also, what helped the Rams out was a Coppin shooting slump. After junior forward Larrisa Carter converted a lay-up with 11:32 remaining in the game, the Lady Eagles didn’t score another field goal in nearly 11 minutes (precisely 10:45).

During that stretch, Coppin had lay-up and close range shot attempts that didn’t fall in for them at all.

“That was the game right there. We had shots. It wasn’t that their defense was that good, we did have shots,” Brown said. “But we just got to make those shots. That’s what we talked about in the locker room (after the game).”

The drought was very costly for the Lady Eagles because it turned a close 42-40 game into a 57-40 mountain for Coppin to climb with only 3:01 remaining. A three from CSU small forward Leola Spotwood broke the drought with 52 seconds left. Spotwood led the Lady Eagles with 12 points and 10 rebounds. This was Spotwood’s second straight double-double which followed her 12 points and 16 rebounds in their loss at American University on Dec. 5.

Next for the Lady Eagles are final exams followed by a trip to Charlottesville, Va. for a date with the University of Virginia on Dec. 18.

Keith Henry

Special to the AFRO