PORTLAND – While the Maine Red Claws were playing their basketball game Friday night, the team announced that they’ve signed veteran point guard Andre Barrett. But he won’t be available for a week.

Too bad. The Red Claws could have used him Friday night.

They could have used Chris Wright and Fab Melo, too.

Anyone.

Maine needed help, but no one came to the rescue, as the ever-improving Erie BayHawks blew past the Red Claws 98-85 before a Portland Expo crowd of 2,309.

Maine dropped to 10-6, with three of those losses coming against Erie (8-5). The BayHawks began the season 2-4, which included a home loss to Maine.

“Sometimes it takes a few games to find your rhythm, to find how all the pieces fit,” Erie Coach Gene Cross said. “For us, it was about guys understanding their roles.”

Those roles obviously include playing defense. Erie held Maine to 35 percent shooting while hitting 49 percent.

“We hit some shots. They didn’t,” Cross said nonchalantly. “We did a pretty decent job on them defensively.”

The BayHawks used their physical play to control the tempo. They out-rebounded Maine 57-38.

The Red Claws had previously been able to overcome the absence of Wright and Melo (both out with concussions), but they could not find the answer Friday.

“Our guys have been doing great with all the roster changes, but we are a short-handed team,” Maine Coach Mike Taylor said. “We’re missing key guys. Some nights you can put it together and over-achieve. Some nights you can’t.”

Forward DaJuan Summers led Maine with 19 points and eight rebounds. Center Chris Ayer came off the bench to score 15. Champ Oguchi scored 13, and Micah Downs 10.

Guard D.J. Kennedy paced Erie with 11 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

The Red Claws’ shooting woes began in the first half, when they shot 25.6 percent.

“What bothered us was Erie’s physical play,” Taylor said. “We talked about winning the battle in the paint, and Erie did it better than we did.”

Summers knows his team was out-rebounded and outshot, but they were also out-passed. Erie had 22 assists to Maine’s 13.

“Those guys always play us hard, but I think tonight was about us not getting our rhythm,” Summers said. “If we shoot like that and don’t pass the ball, it’s going to be a rough night.”

NOTES: Kris Joseph was returned to the Red Claws from Boston, but was limited with a sore ankle. He played 21 minutes, scoring seven points. Barrett, 30, played his college ball for Seton Hall before playing for six different NBA teams between 2004 and 2008. He also has played three seasons in the D-League, the last coming in 2009-10. He played in France last year. Barrett will join the Red Claws after the team plays in the D-League showcase next week in Reno, Nev. Maine plays host to the Canton Charge tonight at 7. The Red Claws have won their two previous games against Canton (9-8).

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH