This night did not start as planned. The Cleveland Charge quickly found themselves behind by double-digits as the Long Island Nets put together a 48-point opening quarter.
The Charge began the game shooting 2-9 from deep while the Nets were a blazing 9-of-14. Rather than folding, Cleveland gradually chipped away at the lead. Stringing together stops and scores to cut the deficit to within reach at halftime.
“We knew we had more than we showed in the first quarter. The guys came together instead of breaking at that point,” said Charge head coach Mike Gerrity.
Spurring the comeback was Sharife Cooper, who recorded consecutive steals in the third quarter to swing momentum back in Cleveland’s favor.
“I think momentum is huge,” said Isaiah Mobley. “So once you have it, you try to capture it and bottle it up because it can take you far.”
Cooper led the team in scoring with 36 points to go with 14 assists. It was a complete performance for Cooper, as he drilled the go-ahead basket in the game’s final minute.
“I’ve seen him (Cooper) score 40, but tonight I feel he was deep in his bag,” said Mobley. “He was showing everything.”
Mobley had a big game, as well. Scoring 31 points and nabbing 14 rebounds in his first game back with the Charge since Dec. 1.
As for Emoni Bates, it was a struggle early in this game. He shot just 2-10 in the first half before erupting for six three-pointers. Bates is a microwave scorer and his second-half flurry is a key reason Cleveland made it over the hump.
“Once Emoni sees one go in, watch out,” said Gerrity. “I tell him to forget about the misses and control what you can control. Shots will start falling eventually”
Overall, this is a game that helps build confidence. The Charge officially start their regular season 1-0 after going just 6-10 in the Showcase portion of the year.