ERIE, Pa. – Close but not quite.

The Maine Red Claws had their chances to close a disappointing season with a big victory Saturday night, but lost 115-113 to the Erie BayHawks before a record crowd of 5,770 at Tullio Arena.

“If we would have had this team from the beginning of the year, I think the situation would have been a lot different, but that’s part of the D-League,” Maine rookie guard Jamar Smith said.

“You’ve got to be able to adapt and adjust.”

Maine had a chance to trim the final deficit to one on its final possession, but Stephane Lasme missed the second of two free throws with 6.3 seconds left.

Erie rebounded the miss and ran out the clock.


“I’m proud of them,” Maine Coach Austin Ainge said. “I’ll coach that group any day.”

Rookie DeShawn Sims scored 33 points to lead the Red Claws (18-32), who finished 1-7 against the BayHawks this season. Blake Ahearn led Erie (32-18) with 29 points.

The BayHawks will be a fifth seed in the D-League playoffs beginning Wednesday.

“Great way to finish (the regular season),” Ahearn said. “Playoff-type atmosphere.”

Despite giving up 30 points on 21 turnovers, Maine came back from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to take a 106-105 lead with 4:17 remaining.

“We could have easily quit at the end of that third quarter, which was kind of a disaster for us,” Ainge said.


Maine made its comeback without Sims, who missed most of the fourth quarter with arm and leg injuries. Playing just 2:25 of the fourth, Sims had only two points in the quarter.

“Losing him was tough for us,” Lasme said.

Erie responded with a 7-0 spurt to go up 112-106, but Antonio Anderson and Smith hit consecutive 3-pointers and Maine was down just 114-112 with 1:23 remaining.

Then it got wild.

Maine had a chance to tie the game twice but had consecutive turnovers.

Erik Daniels stole a high-low pass from Lasme to Sims, who was open on the inside. Maine got the ball back on a turnover, but Ivan Johnson tipped the ball away from Craig Winder from behind.


“On Craig, I was sitting there and I was going, ‘Should I call a timeout, should I call a timeout,’ but we had a fast break,” Ainge said. “I thought we had a better chance with us scoring a layup because we had an advantage, but Craig didn’t see the guy behind him.”

Erie went up 115-112 on an Ahearn free throw, but a turnover by the BayHawks gave Maine another chance to tie it.

Following Erie’s turnover, Smith missed a 3-pointer with 10.5 seconds left.

“Our coach drew up a real good play,” Smith said. “We executed it well. I got a good luck at it. Just didn’t knock it down.”

But Johnson missed a pair of free throws to give Maine one final shot.

With 6.3 seconds left, Daniels fouled Lasme, who split the two free throws that led to Erie gaining possession and running out the clock.

NANCY LIEBERMAN, in her first season, became the first women’s coach of a men’s pro team to make the postseason when the Texas Legends beat the Austin Toros 134-128 in double overtime.


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