Ricoh Astronauts and their Mighty Mouse, 174 centimeter point guard Chris McGuthrie, have done it again! McGuthrie scored 30 of his 31 points in the second half on Wednesday as the Dutch champions came back from 11 down at halftime to stun Charleroi 67-77 in Belgium. The victory means that Astronauts, Charleroi and Caprabo Lleida are now tied at 2-2 in Group D, one victory behind co-leaders Zadar and Varese. The fans in Charleroi won't soon forget the way the smallest guy on the court took over a game that the Belgians thought they had won. Still down 8 going into the final quarter, Astronauts just kept giving the ball to McGuthrie, who had scored 10 straight in the third quarter. He kept hitting and the visitors won the final quarter 11-29 to steal the victory. Joe Spinks added 12 points for the winners. For Charleroi, Marcus Faison was huge with 28 points and Vladimir Kuzmanovic added 12.
Charleroit guard Jacques Stas gave the crowd some relief when he appeared for warm-ups, but that wasn't the case for either Roger Huggins, who had back problems, or David Desy, who is nursing a sore knee. So Charleroi had again to play with 8 players. Andre Riddick opened the scoring with a dunk as Joe Spinks missed his first 3 attempts for Astronauts. But the visitors' defense was well organized, prevented Charleroi's penetrations and generated fastbreaks for a 4-8 Astronauts lead. But now Marcus Faison got loose for Charleroi and scored 8 points in a row to put his team in front 12-8. Faison was playing guard due to 2 quick fouls on Roel Moors. When Riddick also took a second foul, Dmitri Jorssen replaced him and dunked the last points of the quarter for a 20-11 Charleroi lead. Astronauts quickly cut the lead to 20-15 to start the second quarter. Riddick came back despite his fouls and joined with Faison to keep Charleroi ahead on the board. It was 25-17 when he took his third, however, and had to sit back down. Astronauts finally started to score now, and cut into the lead, but could not stop Faison, who finished the half with 20 points. As such, Charleroi owned a comfortable 38-27 lead.
The second half started on the same tempo as the first, with a dunk by Faison. Based on a solid defense, Charleroi still had the game under control, alternating slow and fast actions to maintain a double-digit lead at 48-36. But it had to worry about one thing: fouls, as Riddick and Jim Potter got their fourth each after 27 minutes. Meanwhile, Astronauts ace McGuthrie started to get hot suddenly, scoring 10 points alone to draw the visitors within 51-45 before Le Ron Ellis, who had 6 points and 5 rebounds in the quarter, fixed the score at 56-48 after 30 minutes. The third quarter only hinted at the turnaround that came in the fourth as McGuthrie went wild. The home team could do nothing to stop him as the defecit was eclipsed and Astronauts proceeded to run away with the game. The 1.74-meter point guard not only eluded Charleroi on the offensive end, but mesmerized the Belgians such that they could not score themselves. When Astronauts took the lead at 61-63, Riddick was eliminated with fouls, and when the visitors pushed ahead 63-67, Potter was dealt the same fate. The air was out of Charleroi's ball and McGuthrie had it all to himself. The visitors finished the final quarter having outscored Charleroi 11-29. With another comeback complete, the Astronauts were taking this victory home to Amsterdam, too.
Tuesday, November 5, 2002