by Neil Meyer
Cleveland, Ohio- This evening the Cleveland Charge (0-0) welcomed the Grand Rapids Gold (0-0) to Wolstein Arena for their annual Space Jam night. The Charge on the other hand were looking to bounce back after a tough 96-94 loss to the Windy City Bulls in the G-League Showcase back on December 20th. The Charge Enter tonight 1-1 in the series with the Gold this season as their last matchup resulted in a 122-116 loss to the Gold back on November 15th despite a strong effort from Sharife Cooper who finished with a game high 42 points and 12 assists. The Gold on the other hand were led by former Baylor standout Jared Butler who finished with 23 points and 9 assists.
The Charge would jump out to a quick 6-2 lead following consecutive triples from Mamadi Diakite and Nate Hinton that would give the Charge an early 6-2 lead over the Gold as the Charge was looking to catch fire from behind the arch early. The Charge would rattle off 9 straight to take a 18-7 lead behind three straight triples from Isaiah Mobley and Hinton. Mike Gerrity and the Charge would look to push the tempo early after taking a ten-point lead over the Gold in the early minutes.
However, the Gold would strike back and erase the early deficit as they started to get downhill and attack as they cut the deficit to 4 where they trailed the Charge 23-19 with 2:30 remaining in the first quarter. The Charge would extend their lead to 9 after an Isaiah Mobley and-1 where the Charge would hold a 32-23 lead over the charge through the first 12 minutes. The Charge were led by Mamadi Diakite and Isaiah Mobley who both had nine points in the opening quarter as the big man tandem combined for 18 of the Charges’s first 32 points as the continued to make their presence known inside. The Charge shot nearly 50% from the field in the opening minutes and it just seemed like they couldn’t miss early.
The Charge would come out in the second quarter and look to attack, as Sharife Cooper was doing a great job at getting downhill and getting to the basket. The former Auburn standout was doing a great job at facilitating the Charge’s offense and getting his teammates great looks early, especially from behind the arch. The Gold on the other hand would see a great segment from former Baylor standout Jared Butler who was starting to get going as the Gold would cut the Charge’s lead to 2, where they trailed 38-36 with 4:16 remaining in the second quarter.
The Gold would look to establish the ball inside and get the ball inside to Grant Golden and get Butler going downhill and attack. The Charge would take a 48-46 lead to the break where the Charge would see three players in double figures. Mamadi Diakite and Isaiah Mobley would lead the way with 11 points each, while Sharife Cooper contributed a smooth 10 points after a huge 2nd quarter. The Gold would come back and shoot nearly 45% from the field while the Charge would finish the half shooting just under 37% from the field.
However, the 1st half takeaway was the play of Sharife Cooper and Isaiah Mobley, as Cooper was doing a great job attacking the basket to draw the double team which allowed Mobley to get easy baskets or the pitchout to the corner, and with a team that likes to shoot the three in the Charge, it was a great look throughout the first 24 minutes.
The Gold would take their first lead since early in the second quarter after a Peyton Watson layup but the Charge would respond right away with a three from Hinton, after a Cooper drive and pitch, led to Mobley swinging the extra pass to a wide open Hinton to give the Charge a 55-52 lead with nine minutes left in the third quarter. The Charge would get a huge third quarter from Mamadi Diakite after knocking down a three to give the Charge a four-point lead, he followed right up with a huge slam to give the Charge a 62-56 lead with six minutes remaining.
The Gold would respond with a huge seven-point swing to take a 69-65 with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter after a Jared Butler made three and just like that the Gold were looking to build off the momentum and open the gates here at the Wolstein Center. This would become a back and forth battle as Trevon Duval would start to get going for the Gold as the former Duke standout was doing a great job attacking and using his quick speed to get to the basket after a made layup gave the gold a 77=76 lead with just under a minute left in the third quarter.
The Charge would take a 78-77 lead heading to the fourth quarter as Isaiah Mobley lead the way with a game-high 21 points on 8-9 shooting, while Diakite contributed 18 points on 6-14 from the field. Sharife Cooper also dished out 17 points as each had double digits for the Charge heading down the final stretch. The Gold on the other hand were led by Peyton Watson who led the team with 19 points, while Grant Golden had 17, and Jared Butler was up to 15 after a huge third quarter.
The Gold would gather some momentum after a huge putback slam from Peyton Watson that would give the Gold an 88-87 lead over the Charge. However, Sharife Cooper would silence the crowd with a wide-open three after drawing Watson in the air was a great pump fake. The Charge would take the momentum right back as Mobley continued to dominate after another easy bucket in the paint to give the Charge a 92-90 lead with 5:43 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Gold would bust this one open after an eight to zero run that forced a Charge timeout after an Adonis Arms layup, followed by a huge steal on the inbounds play where Arms would Connect with Butler for an easy layup to give the Gold a 98-90 lead with three minutes remaining. The Gold would keep their foot on the gas as Jared Butler knocked down yet another triple to extend the Golds lead to 6 where they led 106-99 with 1 minute remaining.
The Grand Rapids Gold will hold on and defeat the Cleveland Charge 108-104 behind a huge night from Peyton Watson who finished with a game high 29 points on 11-17 from the field. Grant Golden and Jared Butler also had big nights for the Gold. Golden finished with 23 points, while Butler dished out 24 on 11-14 from the field.
The Charge were led by Mamadi Diakite who finished with 28 points and nine rebounds, while Isaiah Mobley finished with 25 on 10-11 from the field. Sharife Cooper had a huge second half and finished with 22 points despite shooting just 4-19 from the field.
“We are a good team with good players so we always feel like we can turn it on” said Sharife Cooper.
The Charge (0-1) will be back in action on Monday when they travel to New York to take on the Westchester Knicks with tipoff slated for 7pm.