Charge Fend Off Red Claws
The Canton Charge withstood a second half comeback to defeat the Maine Red Claws, 103-100, at the Memorial Civic Center on Wednesday night. The victory improved Cantonís mark to 26-17 on the season as they hold a 3.5 game lead in the East Division with seven left to play, while Maine dropped to 23-22.
The Charge pulled ahead for the 29-18 lead after the first quarter by hitting 57% of their shots from the field, including 10 early points from Arinze Onuaku. Canton never trailed the entire first half, dishing out 13 assists on 25 field goals and held a 58-46 advantage over Maine at the intermission.
After the home team increased their lead to as many as 19 early in the third quarter, the Red Claws fought back in the game by forcing 10 Charge turnovers in the period that they turned into 12 points. Maine capped off a 15-3 run in the final 5:02 of the third when Gabe Pruitt nailed a 35-foot runner at the buzzer to give the visitors their first lead of the game at 78-77 heading into the final period.
Neither team led by more than two baskets in a fourth quarter that featured six lead changes and five ties. After Maine gained their largest lead of the night at 99-97 on a pair of Chris Wright free-throws with 1:55 left, Kyle Gibson drove into the lane on the ensuing possession and scooped a reverse layup underneath the basket that knotted the score at 99-99. Canton then forced three-straight Maine misses and pulled ahead for good when Kyle Weaver converted a pair of three-throws with 21.7 seconds left to give the Charge the final 4-2 edge in the season series between the two teams, including winning four-straight.
Onuaku tallied his second-consecutive 20+ point game with 22 points on 11-of-16 shooting, eight rebounds and two blocks in 30 minutes. Gibson finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and two assists in 30 minutes. Weaver poured in 17 points with eight rebounds and five assists in 38 minutes. Jorge Gutierrez added 12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks for his fourth double-double of the season.
Jermaine Taylor came off the bench to net a game-high 34 points with five steals and four rebounds in 29 minutes for Maine. Curtis Jerrells scored 15 points with four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 37 minutes. Wright finished with 14 points and five rebounds in 33 minutes, while Mark Tyndale scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting with seven boards and four steals in 41 minutes for the Red Claws.
Canton will next head to Sioux Falls for a back-to-back weekend set with the Skyforce beginning Friday, March 22nd at 8:00 p.m.
CHARGE HEAD COACH ALEX JENSEN
(On tonight's game):ďAt the end of the day, we pulled it off and we won. Itís hard because we made some of the same mistakes tonight: seven turnovers in the first half and we had 14 in the second half. Itís frustrating because itís the things you talk about: we show clips and we still seem to make the same mistakes. I give Mike (Taylor) credit because theyíve been on the road for a while. We got up on them early, but those guys did a great job coming back and taking the lead with that three-pointer. I give our guys all the credit to keep fighting. Itís just hard when we keep making the same mistakes and you always compete against your own ability. I donít think we did that for the most part tonight, but we made the plays when we had to.Ē
(On being up 19 points in the second half):ďI think that they were going to make a run. Any team after that first half would have made a run at the second. Any team wants to have it happen fast when they are down. They are going to shoot quickly and defend for one side of the floor. After that it will break down, but if we try to make things happen on the first side of the floor, we get turnovers. They can make a run which really adds fuel to the fire of them coming back.Ē