DES MOINES, Iowa — An outmanned Maine Red Claws squad could not overcome a lack of depth and a hot-shooting night by Iowa’s Patrick Christopher.
Maine ended a disappointing season with a 142-122 loss Friday, as Christopher set a season high for the Energy with 47 points.
A depleted Maine team took the court with just six players. Zeke Marshall, Daniel Orton, Chris Wright and Tyshawn Taylor were scratched from the lineup. Wright scored a season-high 30 points Thursday night in a 122-108 loss to Fort Wayne.
Each of the six active players saw at least 36 minutes of action.
“It’s to be expected,” Maine Coach Mike Taylor said. “I mean, look at our team. You play with six guys in this league, it’s not going to cut it.
“Every one of our last six games (were against) playoff teams. They had a lot more to play for than our guys. Those guys are getting ready for the playoffs and our guys are just playing out the season.”
Maine ended the season with a 19-31 record after dropping its last six games. The Red Claws will finish fourth in the East Division, while Iowa is in first place in the Central Division and heading to the playoffs.
Iowa bolted out to a 7-0 lead and never looked back. Frank Gaines scored nine of the Red Claws’ first 13 points, but Maine trailed 23-13 halfway through the first quarter and 38-22 heading into the second.
“We fought hard, considering the circumstances. Our legs are real soft right now,” Gaines said of playing back-to-back nights. “We just had to adjust and give more effort that we really didn’t have and more hustle that we really didn’t have.”
The Energy led by as many as 26 in the first half and went to the locker room with a 75-53 advantage. Tyler Brown came off the bench to score 15 points in the first half for the Red Claws, while Gaines had 14. Gaines went into the game averaging 22.1 points.
“I want to give our guys credit,” Taylor said. “Back-to-back with travel and only six guys active. They competed the best they could. I’m really proud of the development of some of our players.”
The Red Claws allowed Iowa to shoot 54 percent from the field in the first half while shooting 41 percent themselves. Iowa outrebounded Maine 34-17 in the first two quarters and finished with a 58-39 rebounding advantage.
The Energy quickly extended their lead to 90-58 early in the third quarter after a 15-5 run to open the second half. Brown drained a pair of 3-pointers late in the quarter for Maine, but Iowa led 114-85 after three quarters.
Maine managed to trim the deficit to 18 late in the game.
“Our guys have really competed,” Taylor said. “But our league is too good to go into (games) short-handed. You have a very small margin for error.”