Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Fran Sypek
Special To The Press Herald
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Far too often the Maine Red Claws have squandered huge leads and just when it looked like it might happen again, Chris Babb came through in the clutch.
Babb’s 3-pointer with 3:22 remaining stopped the bleeding and helped the Red Claws earn a 113-111 victory over the Springfield Armor on Tuesday night.
Six straight points by the Armor’s 7-foot center Jeff Foote made it a one-point game, 103-102. But Babb responded with his clutch field goal to put the Red Claws ahead by four.
The Red Claws, who led by as many as 16 points, held leads in 16 of their 17 losses, including eight of which were in double digits.
It was a nice rebound for the Red Claws, who were fresh off a 100-98 loss Monday at Delaware as their losing streak ended at two.
Babb has a knack for coming through in the clutch.
He made four 3-pointers, grabbed five rebounds, was outstanding defensively and is what Mike Taylor calls “a coach’s dream.”
“I felt good the whole game and Chris Wright set up a litle screen,” Babb said. “We knew we needed to make winning plays down the stretch.”
Babb led the Red Claws (14-17) with 21 points in a team-high 38:21 of court time.
“Chris is a clutch player,” Taylor said. “When you see the other team coming back like Springfield was, you need a big play to break their momentum and Chris provided it.”
Wright and Daniel Orton each finished with 17, and Tyshawn Taylor added 16.
Springfield (11-19) was led by Darius Johnson-Odom with a game-high 30 points.
“There were times earlier in the season when we lost our composure during an opponent’s run,” Taylor said. “Tonight the guys did a very good job.”
The Armor and Red Claws are tied 4-4 in the season series with two games remaining in Portland. It was typical nip-and-tuck between the New England rivals.
“You’ve got to give Springfield a lot of credit – they’ve played well over the last month,” Taylor said.
“Guys like Darius Johnson-Odom have been great and they are a much improved team. We came in here and had a great defensive plan.”
The Red Claws were able to play with confidence even though they were coming off that close loss in Delaware. They did not play like a tired team.
“For the guys to travel, compete and find a way to win showed a lot of character,” Taylor said. “We supported each other and it was a really good team win.”
Poor shot selection and defensive lapses by the Red Claws enabled the Armor to take their first lead, 68-67 on a basket by Johnson-Odom. The Red Claws rebounded and led by as many as 10 points, 81-71, before the Armor surged back.
With seven rookies on the squad, things like that are bound to happen to the Red Claws.