A pregame brawl erupted last night between the Howard men's basketball team and Coppin State, bloodying several players and delaying the start of the game at Burr Gymnasium.

When play began, Howard lost, 93-79, as the Eagles moved into a first-place tie in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with South Carolina. In the first game, the Howard women remained in first place in the MEAC with an 83-46 win over Coppin State.

The fight occurred as the teams went downstairs to their locker rooms following warmups. Howard senior guard John Gay required stitches under his right eye but entered the game with 14 minutes 31 seconds remaining in the first half.

"I don't know and I'm not concerned {how it started}," Howard Coach Mike McLeese said. "That's behind us now. I'm more concerned with the ballgame. I thought our guys played hard; we just came up a little short tonight."

Forward Reggie Welch led the Coppin State men (9-7, 6-2) with 23 points. Center Terquin Mott added 21. Howard guard Eric Dedmon scored a game-high 24 points and Xavier Singletary scored 23 for the Bison (4-12, 4-4).

Amanda Hayes had a game-high 24 points and led five players in double figures for the Howard women (11-5, 8-0). Forward Lisa Briggs led the Eagles (4-11, 4-4) with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

The victory is the 10th straight for the Bison women and their 12th straight against MEAC opponents dating from last season. The Eagles made just 15 of 62 shots (24 percent).

Senior forward Alisha Hill, last week's MEAC player of the week, did not start the game for violating what Coach Sanya Tyler called "team specified rules." It marked the first time in 73 games with the Bison that Hill, who made 4 of 7 shots and finished with 12 points in 20 minutes, did not start. In Monday's 70-60 victory over Hampton, Hill played just four minutes and scored four points.

Both the men's and women's teams play their next six games on the road.