Kissimmee, Fla. – The Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ NBA G League affiliate, picked up their first win of the 2021 season with a 114-102 victory over the Canton Charge on Thursday afternoon inside HP Field House. The Hustle had six players score in double figures, including Sam Merrill who tallied a game-high 20 points.
Memphis got off to a slow start falling behind 21-13 midway through the first quarter before the second-unit entered the game and scored eight points to end the first quarter. Canton was able to carry a 30-23 lead into the second quarter after shooting 57.1 percent from three in the opening period. However, Memphis would grab control of the game in the second quarter by using a 26-10 run to take a nine-point lead at 49-40. Rookie center Freddie Gillespie notched 12 of his 18 points on 5-of-5 shooting to lead the run for the Hustle. Memphis carried a 64-57 lead into the halftime break after scoring 20 points off of Canton turnovers in the first half.
Memphis extended their lead to as many 14 points in the third quarter at 88-74 after Bennie Boatwright scored eight points in 2:04 of play. Canton trimmed the Memphis lead to 91-80 heading into the final quarter of play. The Charge would never get closer than 11 points as Hustle forward Sam Merrill scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to ice the game away. Memphis finished with a whopping 31 points off turnovers while only giving up 10 points off turnovers on the other end. Memphis shot the deep ball well in victory, connecting on 14-of-34 attempts (41.2 percent) from behind the arc. Thanks in large part to Gillespie, the Hustle controlled the game down low, outscoring the Charge 56-40 in points in the paint.
Merrill led all scorers with 20 points, seven assists and two steals on an efficient 8-of-14 night from the field. Gillespie posted his second-connective double-double to start the season. The big man totaled 18 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks on 8-of-10 shooting. Tyrell Terry added 18 of his own to go with eight rebounds and three assists in 34 minutes. Sophomore guard Shaq Buchanan led the Memphis reserves with 13 points, four assists and four rebounds in 24 minutes. Anthony Cowan Jr. totaled 12 points and four rebounds in 21 minutes as the Hustle moved to 1-1 on the season.
Antonio Blakeney led Canton with 19 points, six rebounds and four assists on 7-of-14 shooting. Devon Dotson pitched in 16 points, two rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes. Ty-Shon Alexander scored 15 points to go six rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes off the bench for Canton.
The Hustle will return to the court to face the Lakeland Magic on Sunday, Feb. 14. inside HP Field House. Fans can watch the game on GrindCityMedia.com or stream it on ESPN+.