Canton Charge’s strong defensive play in the first half set the tone for the rest of the game as they defeated the Fort Wayne Mad Ants 96-82 as 2,794 of the Charge faithful looked on at the Canton Memorial Civic Center. The victory increases Canton’s East Division leading record to 20-11 with the Mad Ants dropping to 17-13. Sunday’s game ties the two clubs as three wins each.
Holding on to a six point lead of 25-19 at the end of the first quarter, the Charge locked down the opponent’s end of the court forcing 20 consecutive Fort Wayne misses while going on an incredible 33-8 run to end the half. The 10 points scored by Fort Wayne was a new franchise record low for a Canton opponent as well as the 29 points they scored before the half was over.
The clamp-down resulted in limiting Fort Wayne to 3-of-25 in the second quarter for only 12% and 11-of-45 or 24% for the half. At one point, Canton took a 31 point lead as Arinze Onuaku scored a first half double-double. It was Canton ahead times two with an intermission lead of 58-29.
Canton continued to pressure in the third quarter leading by as much as 36 points and maintaining a double digit lead for the rest of the game. Fort Wayne set a new low mark for a Charge opponent with their 82 total points, the result of 33.3% field goal shooting.
Onuaku finished with 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting with a career-high 18 rebounds and two steals for his fifth double-double in the last six games and ninth this season. Cleveland Cavaliers assignment Sergey Karasev netted 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting with five rebounds and a steal in 29 minutes. Jorge Gutierrez contributed 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in 31 minutes. Shane Edwards added 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting in 33 minutes for Canton.
Detroit Pistons assignment Peyton Siva led Fort Wayne with 21 points and six assists in 28 minutes off the bench. Darnell Lazare added 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting in 19 minutes of relief. The Mad Ants reserves scored 52 of the team’s 82 points on the night.
HEAD COACH STEVE HETZEL
(On tonight’s win):“I just thought that we played a complete team game for the first three quarters. I thought that our intent defensively was right. Offensively, we shared the ball and we attacked the basket. We did all the things that we preach. We show them all the things we do well on film and it was an exact replica of that during the game. I thought some things went our way with some missed shots that just helped build the lead. We didn’t make any excuses for ourselves getting in here, so we’ll take the win.”
(On the team fighting through travel delays for the win):“We have a resilient group. We have a bunch of hard-nosed players and they knew the importance of the game. Fort Wayne has been a battle all year and we made our own luck with the energy and effort that we played with.”
F SHANE EDWARDS
(On the team facing travel delays coming into today’s game):“We try to pride ourselves on being a no-excuse team. We try not to let anything or any adversity get to us and once we step out onto the court, it’s go-time.”
The Charge will play their last game before a week off for the All-Star break when they visit the Sioux Falls Skyforce on Tuesday, February 11 at 8:00 p.m. For game day promotions and links to live stats and YouTube game streams, head towww.CantonCharge.com.