Photo Credit: Matt Azevedo/MattAzevedo.com
Erie Bayhawks (6-12) def. Raptors 905 (12-6); 99-95 | Box Score
Assignees: None (Raptors 905). Stephen Zimmerman (Erie Bayhawks).
The 905 started out their first game of 2017 the same way they ended their final game of 2016. Facing the last-placed team in the Eastern Conference, they came out flat from the start and gave the Bayhawks plenty of reason to believe they could pull off the upset, and they eventually did.
The two teams came in as the slowest paced teams in the D-League, but the Bayhawks came out with clear intent to run at every opportunity. Gabe York made the most of the 905’s seven first-quarter turnovers with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, but his biggest highlight came off his only miss. While it wasn’t the most impressive crossover, he dropped E.J. Singler flat on his rear end near the right elbow three, drawing oohs and ahhs from the crowd.
With the 905 struggling to hit from the outside, they kept themselves in the game by relentlessly attacking the rim. They drew 10 fouls in the opening quarter which led to 15 free-throw attempts, so despite hitting just five of their 14 field-goal attempts, they were only trailing 26-21 after one.
The 905 turned the ball over another five times in the second quarter, but shooting 10-of-20 from the field and tightening up the defense proved too much for the Bayhawks. The 905 outscored them 28-19 in the period, and Axel Toupane making his presence felt on both ends was a decisive factor.
It’s amazing how easily Toupane gets to the rim, and his eurostep buys him enough time to make what’s usually the right decision on whether to finish himself or dish to the open man. He was a fiend defensively as well, being very active with his hands and always on the lookout for loose balls. The entire bench was a factor for the 905, outscoring the Bayhawks bench 27-9 in the first half.
After a quiet first half by his standards this season, CJ Leslie came out more aggressive in the third quarter. He had a beauty of a spin move on the left baseline for an easy lay-in, but that was about as positive as things got for the 905 in the third quarter. They committed nine turnovers in the quarter, and after Gabe York lit them up in the first, it was Anthony Brown’s turn in the third. He scored 13 points in the the quarter, and the 905 just had no answer for his array of outside shooting and forays to the bucket. He led the Bayhawks to a 32-12 start to the third stanza, leaving the good guys with an 81-68 deficit after three.
If Leslie gave the 905 whatever little life they could muster in the third quarter, it was Will Sheehey that got the team back in the game in the fourth. He got out in transition for a layup and hit a spot-up three to pull the 905 within four, before Edy Tavares got the crowd going with a monster swat on a Stephen Zimmerman dunk attempt. They outscored the Bayhawks 27-18 in the fourth, but ultimately, there was just too much to overcome with not enough time.
This will be a hard lesson in coming out flat against a bottom team going forward. The 905 are in a funk offensively, and their 24 turnovers combined with their shooting woes will leave them scratching their heads as to how they can snap out of it. They are now eight for their last 44 from beyond the arc (18.2%) and coach Stackhouse will have to look into finding some easier ways to create looks for his best shooters.
- Game ball to Gabe York, who finished with 31-5-5 and was money for the Bayhawks all night.
- Give me Toupane’s eurostep all day, everyday. It’s a beauty.
- Tavares likes doing chin-ups on the rim on alley-oops. He did it twice in the first half, and surprisingly, the rim seemed unfazed.
- It was a rough night for both E.J. Singler and John Jordan. Singler struggled to get himself involved, and will need to find a way to contribute to remain in the starting lineup. Jordan gets the ball slapped out of his hands far too easily on drives, and couldn’t get the offense into a flow either.
- Antwaine Wiggins was a bundle of energy when he stepped in for Singler, but doesn’t offer the outside stroke to the degree Singler does.
- The 905 will finish their four-game home stand against the Canton Charge on Wednesday, January 4th, at 7:30pm EST.