The Canton Charge put a halt to a three game losing run with a 107-95 victory over the Erie Bayhawks at the Canton Memorial Civic Center on Sunday Evening. The victory is Canton’s fifth straight against Erie this season and boosts their record to 9-4 overall while Erie drops to 1-10.
It was a back and forth first quarter with four ties and two lead changes when the Bayhawks pulled ahead at the buzzer due mainly to hitting 8-of-16 shots from the floor for 50%. Ricky Davis contributed eight of those points along with four rebounds for Erie while Canton’s Kevin Jones hit for eight points on 4-of-7 shooting.
It began to look grim with 3:28 left in the half as Erie led 41-36 but Canton collected themselves and quickly put together a 12-0 run in just 2:13 to take a 48-41 lead at the half. It was fast breaks and strong rebounding with Canton hitting six attempts in a row from the field to outscore the Bayhawks 15-4 down the stretch going into the locker room with a 51-45 lead. Every Charge player in uniform got their name in the scoring column in the first half.
Out from the break, Erie managed to even the score after being down 56-50 when they went on a quick 10-4 run in just 2:57 tying the game at 60 all. Canton was not to be denied this time as five different players hit seven out of eleven to pull ahead by double digits to lead 78-68 as they went into the final stretch.
Canton kept the pressure on leading by as many as 18 points and did not have a single turnover the entire quarter. There were seven assists out of 12 fourth quarter field goals on 21 attempts for 57%. The twenty seven assists in the game was a new season high.
Jones led the way for Canton with 21 points on 10-of-18 shooting with nine rebounds and one steal in 36 minutes. On assignment from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sergey Karasev tied his season high with 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting and also surpassed season best marks in rebounds (5) and assists (5) in 34 minutes. Shane Edwards came off the bench to add 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting and four rebounds in an efficient 19 minutes. Six Charge players scored double-digit points in the game, and their nine turnovers were also a new season low.
The BayHawks were paced by Davis’ 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting with eight rebounds in 40 minutes. Scott Suggs supplied 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting in 44 minutes of relief off the bench. Mustafa Shakur poured in 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting with four rebounds and five assists in 32 minutes. As a team, Erie hit 38-of-75 shots from the field (51%) while Canton went 44-of-85 as a unit overall (52%).
Canton Charge Head Coach Steve Hetzel
(On tonight's win):"I thought that everybody who played tonight contributed in a positive manner. Gilbert (Brown) was a good spark off the bench for us, Arinze (Onuaku) showed great patience in the post versus a double team. I thought we executed very well in the third quarter versus their double teams in the post. I thought we moved the ball well the entire game, and it showed in the stats with 27 assists. I thought we trusted the offense a little bit more. I'd like for our defense to be a little bit better; allowing a team to shoot 50% is not what we like, but we built a lead and we held on to a lead, so I'm happy with that."
(On forcing 21 Erie turnovers):"I think we just maintained our aggressiveness. Forcing turnovers isn't a big staple of ours defensively. We'd rather be a solid team and protect the paint, but we'll take turnovers, they lead to easy baskets."
(On Kevin Jones' play tonight):"I think the ball was just moving and it was finding him. We preach move the basketball or find the open man and he happened to be in the right place at the right time. He spaces the floor the correct way, gets around the basket, offensive rebounds, and KJ just plays the game the right way. I don't think he took any bad shots, they were all good, quality shots and that results in made baskets."
Canton Charge F Gilbert Brown
(On his play in tonight's win): "It felt great. Going through what I went through during training camp and then coming back and re-injuring myself was tough, but throughout the whole process I stayed positive. Just to have the opportunity to come into the game today made a positive impact here for me."
(On tonight's win before going on the road):"It's a huge win for us. Not because of the road trip, but because of the slide we took with the last three losses in a row. I think it was a good getting back on the winning track into the road trip. I think in those last games, we failed to execute and close out games, having large leads and playing into the opposing team’s hands. I think it was big for us to finish a game and finish with a double-digit lead."
The Charge begin a stint of eight consecutive games away from home when they visit the west coast and the Bakersfield Jam on Thursday, January 2nd at 10:00 p.m. Fans can follow all of the action with live stats and a live YouTube stream of the game onCantonCharge.com.