PITTSBURGH - The shock was still evident, even 45 minutes later.
That amount of time was certainly not sufficient for BJ McKie to comprehend what had happened. He just sat there, alone on a bench in South Carolina's somber lockerroom, a white towel around his neck, his face in his hands.
"I don't know what to say," the guard said. "They just wouldn't give up."
No, Coppin State didn't quit. Instead, the Eagles became just the third No. 15 seed to upset a second seed in the history of the NCAA Tournament, when they handed sixth-ranked South Carolina a 78-65 loss in the first round of the East Region on Friday.
"When we started this week and started this trip, we had a lot of guys who didn't realize how important, how big this could be for them," Coppin State coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell said. "This one has to go down as one of the major, major wins of my life. We were a tremendous underdog. For us to come in here and do the job these young people did today, it just feels great."
In becoming the first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team to win a NCAA Tournament game in 16 tries, the Eagles (22-8) simply outshot, out-rebounded (41-30), out-hustled and outplayed the regular-season Southeastern Conference champions.
And the longer they hung around, more and more of the 17,509 fans at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena joined their quest. Near the end, while the final seconds were ticking off USC's season, the once-neutral crowd stood and applauded as Coppin State, which has won 18 of its past 19 games, advanced to play Texas in Sunday's second round.
"We came into this tournament expecting some big things," USC forward William Gallman said. "We just came across a team that wanted it a lot more."
Coppin State center Kareem Lewis said, "We've just made history. We shocked the world."
And just how did the Eagles defeat the Gamecocks (24-8), who knocked off Kentucky twice and lost just once in 16 league games?
They simply hounded the All-SEC guard trio of McKie, Larry Davis and Melvin Watson into making mistakes, taking bad shots and generally playing like it was December all over again.
"Easily the better team won here today," USC coach Eddie Fogler said. "They deserved to win. We played awful, but the other team had a lot to do with that. Now our season is over."
The Gamecocks shot just 41.4 percent from the field, committed 19 turnovers and appeared lost offensively at times. They led 47-40 with 13:29 remaining, but made just six more field goals and were outscored 23-11 in the final six minutes.
Guards Antoine Brockington and Danny Singletary combined for 42 points, but none were bigger than Singletary's 23-foot, fall-away 3-pointer as the shot clock expired for an 11-point lead with 1:45 left.
"Our guards are pretty good, also," Coppin State forward Reggie Welch said. "They came out and met the challenge. Once we got up, we just started to play. We didn't even know that was South Carolina out there."
COPPIN STATE (78) - ch 3-10 1-4 7, Seamon 0-1 0-0 0, Mott 5-12 1-2 11, Blockington 5-13 9-10 20, T.Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, King 1-1 1-1 3, Singletary 8-14 5-6 22, Warrick 1-5 5-5 7, K.Lewis 2-3 4-6 8. Totals 25-59 26-34 78.
SOUTH CAROLINA (65) - L.Davis 1-8 0-0 2, Gallman 2-3 0-0 4, Stack 3-5 7-7 13, McKie 6-14 3-5 16, Watson 6-13 1-1 13, Wilbourne 1-3 0-1 2, Rouse 0-1 0-0 0, H.Davis 3-6 0-0 8, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Carlisle 2-5 2-2 7. Totals 24-58 13-16 65.
3-Point goals- Coppin St. 2-13 (Brockington 1-4, Singletary 1-4, Seamon 0-1, Welch 0-2, Warrick 0-2), S.Carolina 4-20, .200 (H.Davis 2-2, Carlisle 1-3, McKie 1-5, Stack 0-1, Rouse 0-1, Watson 0-3, L.Davis 0-5). Fouled out- McKie. Rebounds- Coppin St. 41 (Welch 15), S.Carolina 30 (L.Davis 6). Assists- Coppin St. 6 (Blockington 2), S.Carolina 13 (L.Davis, Watson 5). Total fouls- Coppin St. 18, S.Carolina 23. A- 17,509.
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