It took three periods of extra time, but the Canton Charge (0-1) had their home opener spoiled at the hands of the Delaware 87ers (1-0), 109-106, in front of 3,506 at the Memorial Civic Center on Saturday night. The Sevens drew first blood in the first of six meetings this season between the two Atlantic Division foes.
Canton pulled in front for the 20-17 lead after the first quarter thanks in large part to a strong team defensive effort of five steals and holding Delaware to 32% from the field. The Sevens were able to hang tough by scoring 12 points from their reserves unit.
With the game knotted at 21-21 early in the second, the Charge hit 5-of-6 attempts from the field during a 14-3 run for their largest lead of the game at 35-24. Delaware then regrouped during a timeout to respond with a 14-3 run of their own to tie the game at 38-38. Another back-and-forth spurt from each team saw Canton with the edge at intermission with a 47-46 advantage.
The Sevens made their move in the third thanks to a hot team hand shooting, with nine different players getting into the scoring column and hitting 11-of-17 attempts from the field for 65%. The visitors also protected the basketball by not turning the ball over once in the entire period, and took a 73-66 lead into the game’s final frame.
The Charge picked up the defensive intensity in the fourth stanza as they held Delaware to 29% from the field on 4-of-14 shooting, including forcing misses on all four attempts from the beyond the arc. Behind Chris Crawford’s 8 points, the Charge outscored the 87ers 24-17 in the fourth to tie the game at 90-90 at the end of regulation.
Canton and Delaware swapped a pair of buckets in the first overtime to keep the game deadlocked. Delaware’s Victor Rudd opened overtime with a hook shot to put the 87ers up 92-90. Chris Crawford immediately answered with a layup to tie the game at 92. Ronald Roberts hit a go-ahead layup, but Canton’s Crawford was there to answer again with 20-foot jump shot of his own.
The battle continued on in the second overtime with three ties and three lead changes, as the two teams continued to trade blows and fight on. The Sevens scored all eight of their 2OT points from their bench, and the game had to shift to an extra three minutes to decide a winner with the score deadlocked at 102-102.
After two more ties and lead changes to begin the third overtime, Rahir Hollis-Jefferson put Delaware ahead 108-106 on an offensive rebound tip-in. After misses by each team on the next two possessions, Canton called a timeout to regroup and draw up a play with 23.8 seconds left. Justin Johnson pulled up from 12-feet out on the right wing off the set play, but the ball hit the back of the iron and was secured by the Sevens. After a foul and split free throws, the Charge had 1.2 seconds to throw up a tying attempt from Crawford, but it couldn’t find the bottom of the net.
Crawford finished with a double-double in his first-ever pro game, netting 21 points with 10 boards, five assists, and two steals in 43 minutes. Top pick Michael Dunigan posted a double-double of his own with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting, 11 rebounds, three steals, and three blocks in 30 minutes before fouling out. Stephen Holt added 20 points and six boards in 48 minutes, while Johnson supplied 17 points and three steals in 31 minutes of relief.
Rudd and DJ Seely led the Sevens with 20 points each. Roberts finished with a double-double of 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting with a game-high 19 rebounds in 45 minutes. Delaware’s bench outscored Canton’s, 67-39.