Copeland heats up as NCCU prepares to host NJIT

Jan. 15, 2014 @ 09:55 PM

N.C. Central’s top scorer is not putting the ball in the hole like he was at the beginning of the season when he was the No. 3 scorer in Division I basketball.

Jeremy Ingram, a senior shooting guard for NCCU, exploded for 36 points in a win against Appalachian State (Nov. 22) and 37 points during a loss at nationally ranked Wichita State (Dec. 22).

But Ingram’s 28.4 points-per-game average has dipped to 19.9, which is still solid and shows just how much he was scoring prior to recent outings when he finished with five points against Hampton last week and three points against Bethune-Cookman on Monday.

Yet NCCU won both of those games. Other Eagles stepped up and made shots, particularly forward Jay Copeland (6-7, 255).

NCCU is 2-1 in its last three games, all against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference teams, and Copeland scored 14, 11 and 16 points, respectively, in those contests.

The Eagles beat Hampton and Bethune-Cookman and lost to Florida A&M. Hampton is a MEAC school, but NCCU’s Jan. 7 matchup with the Pirates did not count as a league game due to a preseason agreement by the teams’ coaches to use the contest to fill out their schedules.

Earlier in the season, Copeland was missing relatively easy baskets at the rim because he was taking his eyes off the goal, NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said. Moton popped in some video and showed Copeland what he was doing wrong, and the redshirt junior transfer from Ball State started getting more shots to go down.

Ingram put up just two shots on Monday when NCCCU beat Bethune-Cookman 64-49. He hit one of them, a 3-pointer, and never made it to the foul line for free throws.

NCCU steps out of the MEAC tonight when it hosts New Jersey Institute of Technology (7 p.m., NCCUEaglePride.com). The Highlanders (8-10) have wins against Army and New Hampshire plus two victories over Maine this season.

Independent NJIT, based in Newark, N.J., played in the Great West Conference before it disbanded.

Highlanders freshman Damon Lynn is NJIT’s leading scorer at 16.2 points per game and likes to shoot the 3-ball. He is No. 3 in the nation in made 3-pointers (62 of 164), trailing Oakland’s Travis Bader (No. 1, 85 of 208) and East Carolina’s Akeem Richmond (No. 2, 75 of 191).

Ingram still is NCCU’s leading scorer, No. 35 in the nation. He has said that he is not particularly worried about having cooled off as long as his teammates are making shots.

NCCU point guard Emanuel Chapman is the No. 4 set-up man in the nation at 7.2 assists per game. He is NCCU’s all-time assist leader with well over 500.

NCCU and NJIT have never played each other in basketball. The Eagles (9-5) visit the Highlanders in Newark on Feb. 25.