Charge Stave Off Mad Ants
The Canton Charge withstood a late push from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants to hold on for a 90-85 victory in front of 3,169 at the Civic Center on Saturday night. The win was Cantonís fourth-straight over Fort Wayne and improved their record to 18-11 on the season, while the Mad Ants dropped to 13-15.
The Charge pulled ahead 21-19 after the first quarter by working the glass on both ends with 22 rebounds, seven offensive, to limit Fort Wayneís opportunities and create their own second chances. Canton shot an efficient 9-of-16 from the floor for 56% in the second period, but allowed the Mad Ants to hang around by surrendering nine turnovers in the quarter and held a 42-39 lead at the half.
After Fort Wayne briefly gained a one-point advantage in the first minute of the third quarter, the home team pulled back ahead with continued offensive efficiency, shooting 55% from the field, while they built up their biggest lead of the night at 68-60 heading into the gameís final quarter. With the Charge leading 82-73 with 4:42 left in the game, the Mad Ants went on a 12-3 run over the next 4:06 to tie the game at 85-85.
JaJuan Johnson fought for an offensive rebound on the ensuing possession, drawing a loose ball foul and hitting both attempts from the free-throw line. Tony Mitchell then came down and drew a shooting foul while driving to the right of the basket on the next possession for Fort Wayne. Mitchell missed both, allowing Canton to put the game away from the charity stripe while forcing a Luke Harangody missed three-point attempt to tie it with 1.9 seconds left.
Kyle Gibson led Canton with 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting with two rebounds and three assists in 33 minutes. Micheal Eric came off the bench to notch his ninth double-double of the year by pouring in 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting with 13 boards and three blocks in 22 minutes. Dominique Johnson scored 17 points in 31 minutes in his first start of the season, while Josh Selby supplied 11 points with eight rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes in also his first start of the year for the Charge.
Harangody finished with a double-double of 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting with 13 rebounds in 42 minutes for the Mad Ants. Mitchell netted a game-high 23 points on 9-of-27 shooting with eight rebounds and four steals in 41 minutes. Fort Wayne grabbed 21 offensive rebounds in the game, finishing with 51 as a team.
The Charge and Mad Ants will next meet again for the penultimate matchup of the season series between the two East Division rivals on Monday, February 4th at 7:00 p.m. in Fort Wayne.
CHARGE HEAD COACH ALEX JENSEN
(On tonight's game):ďIt was physical and a tough game. There will be a lot of guys who are sore tomorrow. It will be fun to watch the boxing out on both ends since there was probably a lot of scratching, holding and complaining by both of us, but we played hard. Itís always nice, whether you win or lose after a game, when you canít fault your guys for not playing hard. Good things will happen if you do.Ē
(On using a different starting lineup and rotation tonight): ďI am glad that we came together and won. I think Josh (Selby) played good tonight and he will play better the longer he is here, however long that may be. It is all about taking the small steps forward. Thatís where we started off slow, but then as the season went on we got better and better. Things happen like the normal roster changes, Arinze (Onuaku) had the injury and heís not get back to where he was in top form. Thatís the thing about the D-League: your opportunity will come.Ē
G KYLE GIBSON
(On how they were able to win tonight): ďI think the second half was basically defense and cutting down on their offensive rebounds. Once we cut down on that, we were able to run. I think JaJuan (Johnson) got a dunk in the 3rd and I got the layup at the foul (that gave us an advantage). Cutting down on the stops and limiting them to just one shot I think helped us get in the better grove and helped our defense, which got the crowd into it.Ē
(On defending Fort Wayne's last shot to tie the game): ďIn the huddle we were talking about switching the ball screens or handoffs, but I kind of read my defender. I had a feeling he was going to set a screen because he just hit one on me in the same corner at the same wing. I told JaJuan if they come together we are going to switch and thatís exactly what they did. I just pressed up on them, made a couple dribbles, and made them take a desperation shot."