Frontcourt Powers Charge to Game 1 Victory

The seventh seeded Canton Charge took Game 1 over the fourth seeded Sioux Falls Skyforce, 99-86, in the best-of-three NBA D-League Playoff series in front of 2,875 at the Memorial Civic Center on Thursday Night. The series will now move to Sioux Falls for Game 2 on Saturday night.

The home team pulled ahead 50-48 at the half thanks in large part to the play of their big men inside. Canton’s Shane Edwards scored 18 points, including 14 in the first quarter, while Arinze Onuaku netted nine points and grabbed 11 boards in the first half. Craig Smith scored 18 points for Sioux Falls at intermission after both teams traded blows for seven ties and five lead changes while shooting over 50%.

Neither team led by more than two possessions throughout the third quarter that featured an additional five ties and three lead changes. The Skyforce held the hosts to 7-of-18 shooting in the period (39%). The two top-scoring defenses in the regular season played like it, as the contest went into the final frame with the score knotted at 69-69.

Tied at 72-72 and 10:24 left in the game, the Charge came alive with a 9-2 run over a span of 2:01 that included six points off the bench from Re’mon Nelson and stops on the defensive end to go up 81-74. Sioux Falls then immediately bounced back by countering with a 7-1 run of their own by forcing four turnovers to pull within 82-81.

Holding a one point lead and 4:44 to play, Canton then rallied with the support of the home crowd to hit six consecutive shots on a 12-0 run over the next 2:21 for their largest lead of the game at 94-81. The Skyforce missed seven of their final eight shots and trailed by double-digits the rest of the way. The Charge as a team hit 12-of-14 attempts in the fourth (86%) to improve their all-time home playoff mark to 4-1.

Edwards finished with a game-high 29 points on 14-of-19 shooting, eight rebounds and a steal in 35 minutes for Canton. Onuaku was punishing in the middle with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting and a franchise playoff record 19 boards in 34 minutes. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Scotty Hopson came off the bench to add 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting in 32 minutes, while fellow assignment Sergey Karasev added four points, seven rebounds and five assists in 24 minutes. Will Cherry netted 11 points with nine assists and three steals in 35 minutes.

Smith finished with 24 points on 11-of-19 shooting and two steals in 33 minutes to lead Sioux Falls. Tre Kelley netted 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting with four assists in 41 minutes. DeAndre Liggins netted 10 points with five rebounds and five steals in 41 minutes. The Skyforce finished the regular season at second in the league in opponent turnovers, which was reflected in the 24 miscues they forced from the Charge resulting in 29 points while surrendering the ball just nine times for 15 points.

POSTGAME QUOTES

HEAD COACH STEVE HETZEL

(On tonight's game):"I thought it was a battle. The one thing I was very unhappy with, obviously, was the turnovers. We’ve preached it all week… we knew how good they were at forcing turnovers. They’re second in the league defensively and we turned it over 24 times. When you do that, normally you walk away with a loss. I’m just happy that we defended so well in the second-half, with twenty points in the third quarter and seventeen in the fourth. That’s how you close out a game, but we can’t feel good about ourselves. We have got to go get a win on the road."

(On the importance of getting a Game 1 win):"It’s huge in any playoff series just to gain momentum, but especially in this league where you’re only awarded on home game if you’re a lower seed. Then you have got to go get a road win. They have a similar record at home as us… they’re very effective. So, we have to buckle down and we have to play some of our best basketball."

F SHANE EDWARDS

(On tonight's game):"We knew that we had to come out with great energy and we knew we had to punch first. I think our guys did a great job of going at it and we took care of business. We did what we had to do and now it’s time to move on to the next game."

(On ):"(By) getting stops and locking down on defense. In the last five minutes of the fourth quarter, you have got to get stops. That’s what we did. Our team did a great job of doing that and we pulled it out.”

Game 2 will be at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls on Saturday, April 12 at 8:00 p.m. The 2014 Canton Charge Playoffs are presented by Aultman/AultCare, The Repository and FirstEnergy Solutions. For tickets, game day promotions and links to live stats and YouTube game streams, head to www.CantonCharge.com. Fans can sign-up to be a Charge Insider for breaking news and exclusive offers at www.CantonCharge.com/insider.

Stay up-to-date on team news by following the team at: @CantonCharge on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CantonCharge and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CantonCharge. Fans can get in the conversation throughout the team’s 2014 postseason run by using #3rdtimestheCharge.