SANTA CRUZ, CA. Jan. 15, 2015 – The Canton Charge came up short in their comeback bid as they fell 97-90 to the Santa Cruz Warriors (13-8) at the NBA D-League Showcase Cup on Thursday night.
Canton pulled ahead 27-25 at the end of the first thanks in part to the paint presence of big man Arinze Onuaku, who scored 11 points on 7-of-13 from the foul line and grabbed five boards. Santa Cruz hung tough despite seven turnovers in the opening frame by running out for 11 fast break points and getting contributions from eight different players in the scoring column.
The Warriors got out in front 39-31 by rolling off a 14-4 run to begin the second quarter, fueled by forcing nine Charge misses over that span. The hosts outscored the visitors 23-11 in the second by clamping down defensively to allow just 5-of-16 Canton field goals (31%) and took a 48-38 lead into intermission.
Santa Cruz continued to lock Canton down defensively in the third, forcing 14 misses on 22 shots (36%) and nabbing five turnovers. The Warriors led by as many as 23 in the third, paced by Golden State Warriors’ assignee Ognjen Kuzmic’s nine points in the period, and pulled ahead 80-60 going into the fourth quarter.
The Charge turned the tables defensively in the fourth to begin a late push, outscoring Santa Cruz 30-17 by capitalizing on high-percentage opportunities with 20 points in the paint. Trailing 86-70 with 6:29 left, Canton went on an 18-6 run and pulled within 92-88 when Antoine Agudio buried a three-pointer while fouled. After the freebie miss, the Charge couldn’t convert following two straight offensive rebounds and Santa Cruz converted 5-of-6 from the line in the final 28 seconds to hold on to the victory.
Onuaku strung together his ninth consecutive double-double, netting a game-high 24 points with 19 rebounds and three steals in 41 minutes. Michael Dunigan added a double-double of 12 points and 11 boards in 31 minutes. Jorge Gutierrez poured in 17 points with eight assists and two blocks in 44 minutes. Agudio finished with 14 points, and Stephen Holt added 11 points off the bench for Canton.
Kuzmic finished with a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds with four blocks to pace the Warriors. Aaron Craft supplied 15 points, five assists and two steals in 34 minutes of play. James Michael McAdoo scored 11 points with nine boards, three steals and three blocks in 26 minutes of work. Santa Cruz finishes with the 2-1 edge in the season series between the two teams.