ERIE, Pa. – The trend continues for Maine: Win at home; lose on the road.

The Red Claws are now 2-8 away from the Portland Expo after losing to the Erie BayHawks 116-97 on Sunday before 2,094 fans at Tullio Arena.

“At home, we play like we’re the best team in the league,” said Red Claws guard Jamar Smith. “But when we get on the road and have a little (adversity), we take a step back instead of putting our foot on the throttle and trying to play harder.”

Avenging a 120-107 loss in Portland on Dec. 30, the BayHawks are 3-0 against the Red Claws (9-11) in Erie. The BayHawks have won those games by an average margin of 28 points.

“I tell you one thing, that’s a very good team they have now,” Maine Coach Austin Ainge said.

In its 13-point win against Erie, Maine was 14 of 26 from 3-point range. On Sunday, it went 9 of 30.

“We picked up the defense,” said forward Ivan Johnson, who led Erie with 25 points. “That’s all it was.”

Mario West scored 26 to lead the Red Claws, but all of that came in the first half. He was 8 for 8 from the field and 8 for 8 from the foul line.

“The basket looked real big,” said West, who was 2 for 2 from 3-point range.

As well as West played, the Red Claws were still down 59-53 at the half. Kyle Spain hit back-to-back 3-pointers to close out the half to give Erie a six-point halftime lead.

“It was great that I was able to hit those two 3s to give us a little momentum going into the second half,” he said.

Since West went wild on them in the first half, the BayHawks zeroed in on him. As a result, West attempted just three shots from the field in the second half.

“They may have had an extra pair of eyes on me,” West said. “Shrinking the floor. Guys helping a little bit more so those lanes I had in the first half weren’t there.”

Without West contributing offensively, the Red Claws shot just 14 of 41 from the field in the second half and were a frigid 3 of 17 from 3-point range.

In the first half, Maine was 6 of 13 on 3-point shots and 18 of 31 from the field overall.

“They were concentrating on taking the paint away a little bit more and we didn’t make the 3s,” Ainge said.

While Maine cooled off, Erie got even hotter. The BayHawks opened the second half with their two latest acquisitions, Garrett Temple and Blake Ahearn, each hitting a 3-pointer to push their lead to 65-55, prompting Ainge to call a 20-second timeout with 10:19 left in the quarter.

Maine responded with a 5-0 spurt, but Erie used to 13-0 run to go up 90-69 with 52.9 seconds left in the quarter.

The BayHawks led 90-71 after three quarters. Shooting 60 percent in the third, Erie was 6 of 9 from 3-point range.

“They turned up their intensity,” West said. “They made some shots. Shot the 3-ball really well and that was pretty much it. They came out and hit us in the mouth and we didn’t respond to that.”

 


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