FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Down to a two-man bench Thursday night for their D-League game against Fort Wayne, the Maine Red Claws were certainly challenged.
Former Notre Dame star Luke Harangody provided them with another one. He scored a game-high 29 points and grabbed a game-high 13 points, leading Fort Wayne to a 115-109 victory.
Harangody, who played briefly with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season and for the Boston Celtics two years ago, ended the night by slamming the ball out of bounds off the head of Red Claws guard Andre Barrett so the Mad Ants would retain possession with four seconds remaining.
The Red Claws (17-11) were down to seven players partly because forward DaJuan Summers remained back in Maine with a strained left quadricep and rookie center Fab Melo was recalled by the Boston Celtics to receive treatment for a strained quadricep.
Four Red Claws played more than 41 minutes, including forward Micah Downs at 43 minutes, 47 seconds. Omar Reed, one of the two bench players who saw action, played for nearly 30 minutes, and had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Downs had a hot hand early, scoring 11 points in the first quarter, and led Maine with 24 points. Chris Wright scored 19 and had a team-high 12 rebounds.
Despite losing for the third time in four games, Red Claws Coach Mike Taylor was quick to praise the effort.
“We really battled, we competed. The guys played really hard,” said Taylor
Maine point guard Andre Barrett, a former All-Big East player at Seton Hall, was a magician in the backcourt, totaling 15 assists against just four turnovers. In his last five games, Barrett is averaging 13.2 assists per game.
“It’s a point guard’s dream to have guys that can score the ball as well as they can,” Barrett said.
“I mean, it’s just a matter of getting them the ball where they like to get it.”
The Red Claws led the Mad Ants (13-14) by as many as nine points in the second quarter before Harangody, Tony Mitchell (19 points) and a deeper Fort Wayne bench turned the game around.
“There were times when we wanted to try to take a guy out to rest him or we just felt we were missing just one man for the rotation,” Taylor said.
“At times guys got tired. We tried to use our timeouts at different times early in the game. We tried to play a little zone. We just tried to do everything we could to survive it.”
Christopher Ayer came off the Maine bench to scored10 of his 16 points in the first half.
Even after Fort Wayne’s effective attack in the second half, the Red Claws closed the gap to four points twice in the final minute. Maine actually outshot the Mad Ants: 45.7 to 43.6 percent from the field, and 41.2 to 37.5 percent from 3-range. But Fort Wayne destroyed the Red Claws on the offensive boards, scoring 28 second-chance points.
The Red Claws will return home to face Central Division leader Rio Grande Valley on Saturday night.