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It’s been quite a turnaround

Coppin State opens tournament tonight

Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio — For Coppin State, the turning point came during the Florida A&M game.

It probably couldn’t have come any later. The Eagles had already lost 19 games, and their confidence was flagging.

Coppin State pulled it out with a tip-in shot that gave them a one-point victory on Feb. 18 in a key road matchup.

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"They started believing in themselves at that point," coach Ron Mitchell said of his players Monday.

They’ve only lost one game since then, and went on to win the Mid-Eastern Conference tournament sending Coppin State to the NCAAs, a feat that hardly seemed possible, let alone likely, just a month ago.

So what if the Eagles are playing in the so-called opening round, against Mount St. Mary’s on a Tuesday night in southwestern Ohio two nights before the rest of the tournament grabs the country’s attention? So what if the Eagles are the first team to get into the tournament with 20 losses, outdoing the 19 by Bradley in 1954-55?

"We’re definitely not looking at their record to see how good they are," Mount St. Mary’s coach Milan Brown said. "They’re going to be a tough test."

Coppin State, from Baltimore, won the conference title by beating Morgan State 62-60. Mount St. Mary’s (18-14), from Emmitsburg, Md., beat Sacred Heart 68-55 for the Northeast Conference title.

Brown is especially worried about Coppin State point guard Tywain McKee, a senior who is averaging 16.6 points a game and lifted the Eagles over Morgan State by tying his season-high of 33, including a floater in the lane with two seconds remaining.

Mount St. Mary’s is 3-0 against Coppin State.

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