It wasn’t exactly the Red Sea parting, but enough space suddenly appeared that Arthur Edwards, holding the basketball on the right wing at the 3-point line, attacked.

Edwards bee-lined for the basket and rammed the ball through the hoop with his right hand, delighting a Portland Expo crowd of 2,263.

A margin whittled to two points was suddenly back to four, and the Claws regained control of what became a 101-90 D-League win over the Erie Bayhawks on Friday night.

“That was definitely a momentum-changer,” Red Claws forward Jalen Jones said of his teammate’s right stuff. “They were kind of on us. They had the momentum. That dunk definitely gave us a lot of energy.”

The Claws had seen a 15-point third-quarter lead shrink to a basket at 81-79 four minutes into the fourth quarter.

After the Edwards throw-down, Maine scored six straight points on a pair of free throws from Marcus Georges-Hunt and two baskets in the paint by Abdel Nader.

“It was good to see him get going because I thought he struggled a little bit with his turnovers,” Maine Coach Scott Morrison said of Edwards, who contributed 15 points off the bench and had three steals to help make up for five turnovers. “It was nice to see him be a key guy in putting that game away.”

Nader led the way with 22 points. Jones and Celtics assignee Jordan Mickey each chipped in with 21.

The Red Claws (27-17) won their third straight, all at home, to reduce their magic number to four for clinching their third straight Atlantic Division title. Erie (13-31) has lost 8 of 10 but had beaten Maine in two of their three previous meetings this season.

“They really played us physical – that’s the most polite way I can say that,” Morrison said, “and enough of them were called that we got to the line 27 times.”

The Red Claws made all 27 of those foul shots Friday night, setting a franchise record for accuracy. Their previous best was 23 of 24 last February at Fort Wayne.

“I didn’t even know that was happening, but I guess you’ve got to say that was the key to the win,” Morrison said. “They just killed us on the glass, though, so we couldn’t really afford to miss any if we weren’t going to rebound.”

Indeed, Erie held an 18-9 edge in offensive rebounds and coupled with Maine’s 16 turnovers, took 16 more shots from the field. A 4-of-27 shooting night (14.8 percnt) from beyond the arc didn’t help the Bayhawks, who received 26 points from Kalin Lucas.

The Claws lost center Dallas Lauderdale to a knee injury after only 29 secondsn, following a collision while setting a pick. Lauderdale did not return and is expected to undergo an MRI on Monday.

Marcus Georges-Hunt had 15 rebounds to go with eight points and seven assists. The Claws never trailed, leading by 14 after one quarter and 11 at halftime.

“We had a few slip-ups,” Mickey said. “They won a lot of 50-50 balls. But as a team we tightened it up and we grabbed the key rebounds that we needed at the end of the game.”

The Claws return to action Sunday afternoon at the Expo against Salt Lake City.

NOTES: Guerschon Yabusele, who was drafted 16th overall by the Celtics last June, signed a D-League contract in hopes of playing for the Red Claws. A native of France, Yabusele played in China for the Shanghai Sharks this winter and sprained his ankle in a playoff game.

Before suiting up for Maine, Yabusele must receive medical clearance by the Celtics and be granted a work visa. A Red Claws official deemed it unlikely that would happen in time for Yabusele, 21, to join the team by Sunday. … Nate Pike of Portland sank a 3-point shot during a third-quarter promotion to win $3,300. The pot had built all season because no one, until Friday, had made the shot.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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