PORTLAND – Well, you didn’t expect them to just fade away at home, did you?

The Maine Red Claws kept their dwindling playoff hopes alive Sunday afternoon, rallying from a 16-point deficit to beat the Texas Legends in overtime, 107-105, before a hoarse sellout crowd at the Portland Expo.

The Red Claws held Texas to just 19 points in the fourth quarter as guards Mario West and Antonio Anderson clamped down on the Legends’ backcourt, forcing turnovers and eliminating shots. DeShawn Sims and Magnum Rolle took over offensively, and the Red Claws rallied for one of their most impressive wins of the season.

“It’s been a struggle this year,” said Anderson, who had three steals and seven assists. “But we wanted to leave these fans with something to remember. They’ve been coming here all year to support us and you’ve got to reward them with something.”

Maine improved to 16-28, still mathematically alive in the race for the eighth and final NBA Development League playoff spot. With just six games remaining — and five on the road where the Red Claws have won only three games — Austin Ainge, head coach of the Red Claws, called it “life support.”

But the players don’t seem to care.

“At this point we’re not even looking at our record,” said West, who had 22 points, eight rebounds, four steals and five assists. “We don’t have that quitting mentality. This is a job first and foremost and we’re going out there to do it to the best of our ability.

“We all have to play hard. Every guy on this team has a lot of fight and that’s what we showed today. We showed our will.”

The Legends, who missed a chance to move closer to Fort Wayne for that final playoff spot, opened a 16-point lead in the third quarter as guards Justin Dentmon (32 points, but only one in the fourth quarter and overtime) and Dominique Johnson (19 points, only six in the fourth and OT), combined for 21 third-quarter points.

The Red Claws started to turn it around late in the third, then took off in the fourth, which saw four lead changes and two ties. Texas took a 99-93 lead with 2:02 left when Antonio Daniels banked in a long 3-pointer, prompting Ainge to think, “Here we go again.”

Sims (30 points) hit two foul shots, then the Red Claws made two defensive stops and tied the game at 99 on two baskets by Sims. Texas regained the lead on a rebound dunk by Matt Rogers with 17.8 seconds left.

But Kenny Hayes penetrated and dished off to Rolle for a two-handed dunk to tie it at 101 with 9.5 seconds left. Anderson’s defense on Dentmon forced him to take a long 3-point attempt, which he missed.

“We played defense,” said Rolle, who scored 16 points with 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots. “I told the guys that we had to play together and we did. If someone got beat, we were there to support him.”

The Red Claws never trailed in overtime. Rolle gave them a lead with a baby hook shot. Johnson tied it inside, then Hayes drove in for a basket to regain the lead for Maine. Johnson tied it with two foul shots, then Rolle banked in a 14-footer from the right for the game’s final points, with 51.4 seconds left.

Texas would miss two shots and Ronald Allen stepped out of bounds when he got an offensive rebound to end the Legends’ last bid.

“Very disappointing for us,” said Nancy Lieberman, coach of the Legends. “Another fourth-quarter meltdown for the team I love. But it was their defense. We got stagnant and turned the ball over.

“Give Maine credit. They played harder than us.”

Ainge, who told his players before the game to just go out and have fun, said pretty much the same thing.

“You can talk about coaching and all that stuff,” he said. “But today our guys played harder than theirs. (Friday) their guys played harder than us.”

And the Red Claws finally held on to a late lead.

“The guys have been fighting all year,” said Rolle. “It’s about time something went our way.”

NOTES: The Red Claws have just one home game remaining, on March 31 against Fort Wayne. That will be Fan Appreciation Night, with the team holding an open autograph session on the court after the game. The players will also be at the Maine Mall on March 29 from 6-7 p.m. For an autograph session. . . . The University of Maine women’s basketball team was on hand, guests of Lieberman. Assistant coach Caren Fiorillo came down on Saturday to attend the Legends’ practice and watch film with Lieberman. “It was great,” said Fiorillo, who interned at Lierberman’s summer camps while in college. “You learn so much from her, even if it’s just watching film for an hour.” Lieberman spent many minutes after the game giving an impassioned talk to the Black Bears. . . . The York High girls’ team and Lawrence High boys’ teams were honored before the game as the Red Claws high school Teams of the Year, based on their on-court success and off-court community service.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]