PORTLAND – Sometimes it’s easy to pick out the turning point in a game, the one play or moment that determined its outcome.

Other times it’s a whole lot of things. Such was the case Saturday night when the Maine Red Claws lost their home opener 112-107 to the Springfield Armor before the usual sellout crowd of 3,042 at the Portland Expo.

In dropping to 0-3, the Red Claws were outscored by 10 points in the final quarter as the Armor took control with a 15-3 run midway through. During that stretch, the Red Claws missed five shots and turned the ball over twice.

“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” said Dave Leitao, the first-year coach of the Red Claws. “I wish I could just pinpoint one item, one section. But the game is a by-product of a lot of plays.

“After we got up by six, they came out of a timeout and got a couple of easy baskets and that was our defense. And the defense at times affects offense and vice versa.”

Springfield improved to 2-1, both wins against Maine.

As they have in each game, the Red Claws lost the turnover game, committing 20 to Springfield’s 13. The Armor’s pressure defense in the fourth quarter, which forced the Red Claws out of their comfort zone, was a key factor in the result.

“We looked timid to make plays at times,” said Kenny Hayes, Maine’s point guard. “It’s like we didn’t realize we had control of the game.”

It was 93-86 Maine with 7:38 left after Durrell Summers hit two foul shots. L.D. Williams hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 93-89. Springfield took the lead when Dennis Horner first scored inside on a loose ball layup, then followed that with a 3-pointer from way beyond the top of the key. That made the score 94-93 with 5:32 left.

After a Red Claws miss, Jerry Smith (12 of his 18 in the fourth) hit a 3-pointer, then intercepted a harried Summers pass and went in for a dunk that made it 99-93. Smith later hit another 3-pointer with 2:44 left that made it 104-97.

“They made plays,” said Hayes, who had 20 points. “That’s what veteran teams do.”

The home opener featured 15 ties and 15 lead changes. Maine played well in spurts, but Springfield kept its composure.

“We just talk about playing consistently,” said Bob MacKinnon, Springfield’s coach. “There’s going to be runs that every team goes on. We just try to be consistent in what we do and play our best.”

Chris Wright led the Red Claws with 27 points, Summers had 21, Hayes 20 and Justin Brownlee 13, including six in a row early in the fourth.

“We’ve got to continue to work and come back in less than 24 hours and play a team (Fort Wayne) that’s undefeated and is very, very good,” said Leitao. “It will test our grit and our mental focus. That’s what this league is about anyway.”

NOTES: The Red Claws and Hannaford will hold a food drive to benefit the Good Shepard Food Bank before today’s game. Any fan who donates a canned item or other non-perishable food product will be entered into a raffle for Red Claws prizes Dominic Calegari, who signed with the Red Claws on Friday, was pressed into action in the second quarter when Anthony Kent and Mike Tisdale each picked up three fouls. He scored on a dunk 45 seconds into his Red Claws career and had six points in 6:37 in the second. He finished with eight points and tied Wright for the team high in rebounds with nine. “I just met him this morning,” said Leitao. “He certainly played more minutes than I expected.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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