ERIE, Pa. – Shelvin Mack will have hard time forgetting the finish to Maine’s 101-100 loss Sunday to the Erie BayHawks.
Mack’s potential winning shot bounced high off the rim and appeared to have a chance to drop, but teammate Chris Wright tipped the ball in after the final buzzer.
“I don’t like to think about it,” he said. “It’s over with. Probably make me mad.”
“I thought Shelvin’s look was a clean look,” Maine Coach Mike Taylor said. “It just rimmed out. In my opinion, clearly the tip was after the red buzzer.”
Erie forward Tirrell Baines wasn’t so sure the shot wouldn’t have gone in had Wright left it alone.
“It looked like it was going in, but thank God it didn’t fall,” Baines said. “It’s hard to tell. It’s hard to tell.”
The only thing certain is Maine had its four-game winning streak snapped before 2,132 fans at Erie Insurance Arena. The Red Claws started their string of wins with a 113-111 win Dec. 6 at Erie. They were also 4-0 on the road.
“Sometimes we come out and play lackadaisical, but they’re a good team,” Mack said. “Their record doesn’t say that, but they’re a great team. They play hard.”
Mack scored 25 points and led the Red Claws back from an 18-point deficit. His 3-point play gave Maine an 100-99 lead with 12.5 seconds left.
Erie retook the lead on D.J. Kennedy’s two free throws with 6.2 seconds remaining.
“They called my number and I had to be ready to make the play,” Kennedy said. “I knew I was going to knock them down.”
With the right side cleared out, the left-handed Kennedy drove on Micah Downs and drew the foul.
“It was a tough situation,” Downs said. “I felt like I played pretty good defense on him. I felt like my hands were back and he tried to create contact by jumping into me. I got a block at the end. The ref made the call.”
Taylor called a timeout to set up the final play. Mack took the inbounds pass, dribbled right on Nick Covington and got him in the air on a pump fake on the baseline.
Not in an ideal position to elevate, Mack gathered himself and took a 10-foot jumper that was contested by Erie forward Mychel Thompson.
The ball rattled off the rim and went upward. As the ball was coming down, Wright tipped it in. The D-League uses the international rules that allow players to tip in the ball if it’s on the rim, but players can’t do it after the final buzzer.
“Based on the rules, at the end of the game, when the ball is up on the rim and the shot clock expires, it’s not a live ball,” Erie Coach Gene Cross said.
Downs didn’t blame Wright for trying to make a play on the ball.
“He had the best look at it,” Downs said.