SPRINGFIELD , Mass. – The Maine Red Claws are still alive and have Jermaine Taylor to thank for it.
Taylor scored a D-League season–high 49 points Saturday night as the Red Claws beat the Springfield Armor 115-108 before 5,644 at the MassMutual Center.
“Jermaine is a very talented scorer and I don’t know if there’s a better scorer in this league,” Red Claws Coach Mike Taylor said. “He’s a fantastic kid who’s been great to coach.”
Taylor, a 6-foot-4 guard from Central Florida, stepped up when needed most.
He set a franchise record with 20 field goals, eclipsing the record of 18 set by Kenny Hayes on March 4, 2012 against the Armor. Hayes also scored a team-record 52 points in that game.
“I felt good and my teammates did a great job of finding me,” Taylor said. “We needed this win and everyone had to battle hard to get it.”
The Red Claws’ playoff hopes remain slim. Even if they win out with three games against Erie left, they will need help. Fort Wayne and Sioux Falls remain in the playoff hunt.
“We will look at the games with Erie as our playoff series,” Taylor said. “Our playoffs started today and the guys really responded. They played with so much heart.”
The win meant much more to Taylor than any records.
“My teammates were telling me to get 50, but all I cared about was winning this game,” Taylor said.”
Mark Tyndale had 17 points for the Red Claws.
“Mark made so many plays with his hustle,” Taylor said.
Curtis Jerrells added 12 points, Chris Wright 11 and Fab Melo 10 for Maine.
Things tightened early in the fourth quarter when the Armor started with a 6-0 run to cut the Red Claws’ lead to 92-84. Maine had been ahead by as many as 14 in the third.
But Melo scored to restore a 94-84 lead. Melo fouled out with 5:05 left and the Armor cut the lead to six.
Wright blocked a shot by Tyshawn Taylor and fed Tyndale, whose layup gave the Red Claws a 102-94 lead. But the Armor stayed close, cutting it to 102-98 on a layup by Willie Reed.
It was a costly win for Maine. Center Garrett Stutz injured his left leg and was on crutches at the end of the game.
Taylor led a second-quarter surge that left the Red Claws with a 58-52 lead. He scored 21 points in the quarter.
Taylor exploited former Maine guard Kris Joseph, who was ineffective defensively.
Springfield led by as many as eight in the first half.
But Maine started to use its size to rebound more effectively, leading to fast breaks.
Taylor fueled a 21-14 run that helped the Red Claws take a 45-44 lead on a basket by Tyndale with 4:15 remaining in the half.
Taylor finished the half by completing a three-point play and sinking a driving layup over Joseph to provide the Red Claws with a 58-52 lead.
Springfield, which built a six-point lead in the opening quarter, watched the Red Claws go on a 15-9 spurt to tie the score at 20-20 on a basket by Micah Downs.
The Armor went ahead 27-22 before a Tyndale basket cut the margin to 27-24.