Coppin State (12-19) vs. Morgan State (14-15)

The Sports NetworkMarch 14, 2014 

GAME NOTES: The third-seeded Morgan State Bears and the seventh-seeded Coppin State Eagles are set to square off in the semifinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament at Scope Arena on Friday night.

The winner moves on to Saturday's championship bout to play either North Carolina Central or Norfolk State.

The Bears downed the Eagles in both meetings this season, which came nine days apart in February. Coppin State still leads the all-time series, 51-26.

After earning a bye into the quarterfinal round, Morgan State (14-15) did what was expected of it by dismissing sixth-seeded Florida A&M, 81-68, using a 22-5 run early in the second half to pull away. The squad outshot the Rattlers from the field, 45.2 percent to 39 percent, which helped overcome a game-high 19 turnovers. Justin Black led the way with a career-high 29 points, shooting 10- of-14 from the floor while adding nine rebounds for good measure. Ian Chiles scored 15, Cedric Blossom added 12 and Anthony Hubbard narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds.

While the Bears are one of the MEAC's most well-rounded squads, they still score fewer points per game (71.5) than they allow on the opposite end of the floor (75.2). Black is the top scoring threat with 18.9 ppg, while Chiles (15.2 ppg) and Hubbard (10.7 ppg) are also impressive. All three top scorers for Morgan State grab at least five rebounds per contest.

Coppin State (12-19) began its tournament stay in the opening round on Tuesday with 75-68 victory over 10th-seeded Bethune-Cookman, and it followed that up with an outstanding 83-77 quarterfinal-round win against second-seeded Hampton on Wednesday, battling through 11 ties and 11 lead changes before sealing its fate with an 11-4 run over the game's final 1:17. Not only did it outshoot Hampton from the field, 46 percent to 36 percent, but it also had an active night at the free-throw line (29-of-41). Taariq Cephas came off the bench to score a game-high 24 points on 4-of-4 from 3-point range. Dallas Gary (17 points), Michael Murray (15) and Sterling Smith (14) were also stellar, with the trio combining for 23 rebounds.

On the season, the Eagles score 69.9 ppg on less than 40 percent shooting while their scoring defense (75.0 ppg) has been less than stellar as well. Murray paces the squad with 14.9 ppg and 7.1 rpg, while Andre Armstrong (11.8 ppg), Smith (10.8 ppg) and Cephas (9.6 ppg, 4.2 apg) are also in the mix.

Although Coppin State has turned things around in a hurry in this event and carries plenty of momentum into this contest, Morgan State has proven to be the better team with two wins over CSU during the regular season and should be in line for a championship game berth.

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