Coppin State downed by NC Central in opening round of MEAC Tournament

Coppin State's head coach Juan Dixon works the bench in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Cincinnati, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, in Cincinnati. Cincinnati won 97-54. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Reginald Gardner Jr. scored 20 points and his four 3-pointers sparked key second-half runs that powered sixth-seeded North Carolina Central past No. 11 seed Coppin State 60-48 in Tuesday night's opening round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament.

Jordan Perkins added 12 points with five assists and Raasean Davis grabbed nine rebounds for NC Central (16-15), which advances to face No. 3 seed Savannah State in Thursday's first semifinal.

Trailing 18-17 at halftime, NC Central took a 23-22 lead on Perkins' tip-in and led by five after Gardner hit three 3s. Coppin State closed to 35-33 on Taqwain Drummond's layup, but Gardner's 3 sparked a 13-2 run and NC Central led 58-39 with 1:56 left after hitting eight free throws.

Karonn Davis scored 13 points with five assists and Lamar Morgan added 10 points for Coppin State (5-27), which shot 28.3 percent from the field.

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