PORTLAND — The Iowa Energy showed why they are the top team in the NBA Development League on Sunday night.

Iowa took just 3 minutes, 3 seconds to pull ahead of the Maine Red Claws.

The Energy never trailed after that and ran to a 100-88 victory over Maine at the Portland Expo.

The loss dropped Maine (24-16) to third in the East and No. 5 in the overall league standings, which determines playoff pairings.

“We were sloppy. We didn’t come out focused and spotted them too many (points) early,” said Maine Coach Austin Ainge.

Iowa (32-11) got double-digit scoring performances from all five starters: 20 points from guard Curtis Stinson, 19 apiece from guard Pat Carroll and forward Cartier Martin, 16 from forward Jeff Trepagnier and 14 from center Earl Barron.

Maine had beaten the Energy on Friday night, 106-96.

“They came out with a chip on their shoulder after we beat them,” said Maine’s Morris Almond, who had a game-high 29 points. “We got into a hole and didn’t match their energy.”

Maine trailed by as many as 15 in the first half, but clawed back to within three at halftime with a 16-9 run to make it 55-52 to start the second half.

Iowa kept capitalizing on chances to take a 75-66 lead after three quarters.

In the fourth, Maine got to within six points after a layup by Terrel Harris, a jumper from Almond and a basket from a baseline drive by Russell Robinson with less than three minutes to play.

That cut Iowa’s lead to 92-86.

Martin hit two from the free-throw line to make it 94-86, and Maine’s next two shots bounced in and then out of the basket: a 3-point attempt by Almond and a jumper by Darnell Lazare.

Ainge got called for a technical foul after arguing the next call — an offensive foul on Robinson.

Carroll hit a shot to make it 95-86 and Barron got in for a clean dunk with just over a minute to play, but time had run out on the Claws.

“I didn’t have any timeouts. We burned them all. I couldn’t stop the bleeding,” said Ainge.

“They’re all important from here on out. Every game matters. So now we’re going to really have to finish strong.”

Maine has 10 games left until the end of the regular season.

The top eight teams make the playoffs, and the top four get home-court advantage.

“We don’t want to be stuck looking back and wishing we had something we don’t have,” said guard Maurice Ager. “Early on, they were a step faster. That was bad tonight. We’ll have to regroup and come back on Tuesday.”

In all, Iowa shot 49.3 percent from the floor and 53.8 percent from 3-point range, while outrebounding Maine, 42-35.

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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