Michigan ends skid with 72-56 win over Coppin State
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Winless since Dec. 2, Michigan was in desperate need of any sort of holiday cheer and got it Monday night, snapping a four-game losing streak with a 72-56 win over visiting Coppin State.
The holiday cheer came in more than just a win - freshman Austin Hatch, a survivor of two plane crashes, scored his first career point in the closing minutes and exited to a standing ovation.
''He's one of the hardest working kids I've ever met,'' sophomore Zak Irvin said of Hatch. ''It's just nice to see that pay off in front of everyone.''
Freshman Ricky Doyle led the Wolverines with a career-high 16 points and five rebounds. Michigan (7-5) scored on its first five possessions to take an 11-0 lead and built that to 21-3 just six minutes into the game.
''I love the way we started the game,'' Michigan coach John Beilein said. ''It was just important to get a win any way we could.''
Down early and with little to lose, Coppin State (1-10) shifted to a 2-3 zone and forced three Michigan turnovers in less than a minute, helping the Eagles tighten the gap to 23-11.
The Wolverines recovered quickly, however, behind a steady dose of Doyle inside and solid 3-point shooting in the first half - both of which has been lacking during the losing streak, which was their longest since dropping six straight in 2010-11.
''I definitely saw a lot of opportunities,'' Doyle said. ''We were really executing, and that really got me open. We were hungry coming into this game and really wanted it bad.''
Fellow freshman Mark Donnal was also active in the paint, tallying eight points on 3 of 4 shooting.
Irvin scored 13 - including 3 of 5 from behind the arc in the first half - and collected a career-high seven rebounds for Michigan. Derrick Walton Jr. set a career mark with nine assists.
Michigan went into the break with a 42-26 lead but came out a bit sluggish in the second half before a thunderous one-handed, alley-oop dunk from Caris LeVert to Irvin ignited both the crowd and the Michigan bench.
The Eagles played the Wolverines fairly evenly the rest of the way, as the teams each netted 30 points in the second half.
Sterling Smith and Taarig Cephas led Coppin State with 11 points each.
''They didn't really shoot it well once we went into that zone, so we really tried to play zone as much as possible,'' Coppin State coach Michael Grant said. ''Once we calmed down and really made them compete, I thought we kind of played them even.''
The Wolverines finished with nearly half as many 3-pointers (26) as field goals (56), but after losing four straight, Beilein was happy to just see the ball go through the hoop.
''As long as we're taking good shots, I really don't care where they come from,'' he said. ''But we can't be just a 3-point shooting team - we have to be more than that. Maybe we made some steps today.''
Michigan: Michigan improved to 4-0 all-time over Coppin State, including an 87-45 route last season at Crisler Center.
Coppin State: Grant returned to his old stomping grounds on Monday. Grant served as a graduate assistant for Michigan in 1985, helping mentor his younger brother and 1988 Big Ten Player of the Year Gary Grant.
MORE ON HATCH
Hatch - a plane crash survivor who lost his mother and two siblings in one crash and his father and stepmother in another - sank his free throw in the closing minutes after being fouled on a 3-point attempt.
''I told Austin earlier, `Just shoot it - the Lord will take care of it,''' Beilein said. ''It almost went in, but I'm glad he was able to just get in there and get to the foul line and put one in.''
Michigan will be off until Friday.
''No basketball,'' Beilein told his players. ''Don't do anything - we all need rest right now.''
Michigan will have a week off before opening Big Ten play Dec. 30 against visiting Illinois.
Coppin State plays at Eastern Michigan on Tuesday.