WASHINGTON, D.C. - Coppin State's imposing frontline of Whitney Cunningham and Danielle Anders proved to be too much as they helped the Lady Eagles outmuscle Howard, 63-57 in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference women's game at Burr Gymnasium.
After trailing by six through most of the first half, the Lady Bison (6-20 overall, 5-8 in the MEAC) put together a late rally to trail only, 35-34 at intermission. Howard's efforts were buoyed by the scoring of sophomore guard Zykia Brown, who tallied 17 of her team's points in the opening stanza. Anders led a balanced Coppin State attack with nine points.
But the second half was a different story. Cunningham, a 6-3 center, began to work down low. When she was not making baskets on strong post moves, she was getting offensive rebounds to give her teammates second and sometime third opportunities while also drawing fouls on the smaller Howard defenders.
"Their inside game was a big difference," admitted Howard first year head coach Niki Reid Geckeler. "They went to Cunningham from the start. They were very aggressive on the boards." Coppin State held an overwhelming 52-31 advantage on the boards but more importantly, 27 off the offensive glass that offset a 34 percent shooting performance from the field.
"They're very big in the post," added Howard senior center Tamaya Daniels, who was dwarfed by Cunningham and finished with only four points and five rebounds before fouling out. "Cunningham has a great wing span and she is very physical. If you get caught behind her, you're in trouble and that's what happened tonight."
So effective was the Lady Eagles' defense that for a seven-minute stretch during the second half, Howard did not score while Coppin State (12-13 overall, 11-4 in the MEAC) reeled off a 12-0 run that opened a 59-41 lead at the 5:53 mark.
"I thought Coppin did a good job on Ziggy (Zykia)," said Coach Geckeler. "They played strong denial on her and didn't let her touch the ball."
The Lady Bison refused to quit and rallied with a late run of their own, led by Brown and Morgan Neal, who scored all 10 of her points after intermission. But Coppin State was able to hold on as time ran out.
"We have to learn to get other players involved," said Geckeler. "We have to play with a greater sense of purpose in these games. But I believe these kind of games will make us better going into the tournament. This is anybody's tournament and we want to be there."
Anders led the Lady Eagles with 17 points and right rebounds, Cunningham with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Shante Cummings with 11 points.
Brown continues to establish herself as one of the premier guards in the MEAC as she led all scorers with 31.
NEXT UP: Coppin State hosts Maryland Eastern Shore on Saturday at 2 pm while Howard travels to Greensboro, NC to take on first North Carolina A&T at 2 pm, also on Saturday.