HAMPTON — At one point during pregame warmups, Olivia Allen simply quit shooting because she couldn't make anything. Apparently, she saved the shots for when they counted.
Allen poured in a career-high 22 points, sparking Hampton University to a 58-50 win against Coppin State on Monday at the HU Convocation Center.
"I always look to score," Allen said, "but today, they were just leaving me open. They were giving me a whole bunch of space, so I just shot it. When they came out on me, I was able to drive to the basket."
Hampton (14-5, 5-0 MEAC) won its fifth consecutive game and remained atop the conference. The Lady Pirates snapped Coppin State's (7-12, 3-3 MEAC) three-game win streak and held an opponent under 50 points for the 11th time this season.
"We've got to finish better," HU coach David Six said. "We played hard, but just not smart."
Allen, a 5-foot-6 senior reserve, made 9 of 15 shots on a variety of drives and jump shots. She averages 7.8 points per game, and her previous high was 19 points against Boston College on Jan. 2.
She helped the Lady Pirates to a cushion in the first half with 15 points, then hit a pair of critical baskets in the second half as Coppin attempted to climb back into the game.
"We're going to need some scoring from her," Six said. "When she's locked in and focused, she does a great job defensively. But we're going to need more from her the rest of the way."
Forward Keiara Avant (14 points, 10 rebounds) complemented Allen. The tandem of Nicole Hamilton and Alyssa Bennett made just 5 of 29 shots, but Bennett grabbed 12 rebounds, and Hamilton (12 points) contributed seven rebounds and seven assists.
Allen scored nine consecutive points in a 1:50 span of the first half, the last a 3-pointer from the right wing, as the Lady Pirates opened a 36-25 halftime lead. She scored on three consecutive drives before burying the trey.
Hampton shook off a dismal shooting start (5-20 FG) and scored on 11 of its last 13 possessions of the half.
The Lady Pirates squandered a chance to put away the game early in the second half. Coppin missed its first 11 shots from the field, while HU missed 11 of its first 13 on the way to a 41-26 lead.
Coppin drew within 10 points, but missed four shots that would have cut the deficit to single figures. Bennett followed her own miss to push the lead back to 13 points.
Amber Griffin's three-point play with 5:33 remaining cut Coppin's deficit to 49-42. On the ensuing trip, Allen took a quick lead pass and drove the baseline for a reverse layup and a 51-42 lead. A minute-and-a-half later, her 3-pointer from the right wing pushed the lead to 55-42. Coppin didn't get closer than the final margin.
Though Coppin scored 25 points each half, the Lady Pirates limited the Eagles to 26.7-percent shooting and 30.5 percent for the game.
"We cut off the penetration a little bit more," Six said. "They were getting a lot of second shots at the beginning of the game, and we cut that back a little bit. But the penetration we looked to stop and we did that a little better."
Coppin had no good answer for Allen, either penetrating or shooting from the perimeter.
"Before the game, I couldn't make anything," she said. "During the game, I was making everything. It was perfect."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times