With three minutes left in the game Sunday evening, Demetrius Jackson picked the pocket of an Erie player, raced upcourt, and set up Damion Lee for a 3-pointer to cut what had been a double-digit deficit to a single point.

Fans were pumped. The home team had roared back. This was where the Erie Bayhawks, losers of 13 straight games at the Portland Expo, would see the fissures widen, the ground shake beneath their sneakered feet.

Problem was, the Bayhawks rewrote the script. They fed big Cliff Alexander for a left-handed hook in the paint and later, when the Red Claws tried to force someone else to beat them, he split their double-team for another bucket. Erie walked off the floor with a 108-104 victory before a crowd of 1,462.

“They’re a good team,” Erie Coach Bill Peterson said of the Red Claws (9-6). “They made a big run, cut it to one, and we didn’t crumble. We methodically started getting it back again and we responded to their run. A couple weeks ago, we wouldn’t have done that. We would have cratered.”

The loss was the third straight for the Red Claws. The Bayhawks (4-10) have won two of three and are erasing memories of a seven-game losing streak that included a 101-91 loss to the Red Claws in Pennsylvania.

Anthony Brown paced Erie with 23 points. Gabe York added 17 points and nine assists. Alexander, a 6-8, 245-pounder who played a year at Kansas before turning pro and played briefly for the NBA Portland Trail Blazers last season, came off the bench to score 16 points – half of them in the fourth – and grab seven rebounds.

“He gave us problems later in the game,” said Maine forward Jalen Jones. “He’s a big, strong guy who can finish around the basket pretty well. But overall, I think we did a pretty good job on him.”

Abdel Nader led the Red Claws with 27 points and was instrumental in the comeback after Erie had taken a 93-81 lead early in the fourth quarter. Jones chipped in with 17 points and 11 rebounds but had a tough 4-of-15 shooting performance.

“Some nights the ball’s just not going to go in,” he said. “You’ve got to stay with it, stay focused, just keep attacking and hope it goes in.”

Jackson, a Boston Celtics rookie, had 18 points and four steals. He scored the last two baskets of a 12-0 Maine run after Erie had surged to a 73-60 lead in the third quarter. But as was the case Saturday night, when the Red Claws rallied from a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie it before eventually falling 119-111 to Los Angeles, the home team couldn’t quite get over the hump.

“We’ve got to dig deeper,” Jones said. “That starts with practice. We’ve got to get better in practice and take it from there.”

Coach Scott Morrison said he thought Maine allowed too many easy baskets in transition, until the fourth quarter, when it tightened its defense and challenged for the lead.

“It was the same as (Saturday) night,” he said. “Once we started playing our best, they hit tough shots and made good plays and kind of put us down.”

The Claws leave Thursday for a three-game Midwestern trip with games at Grand Rapids, Erie and Toronto before returning to the Expo for a New Year’s Eve matinee against Windy City.

“We’ve got to regroup,” Morrison said. “Guys have got to stay positive but also be realistic about what we have to improve. It’s our job as coaches to simplify that. It’s the guys’ job to try and make a solid effort to improve what we’ve been lacking.”

He listed three areas in need of improvement.

“Transition defense for sure. I think effort is the biggest thing there.”

 “Offensively, just playing together, not having tunnel vision, which I thought was better (Sunday) but we missed some shots.”

Indeed, Maine shot only 28.6 percent (10 of 35) from beyond the arc while Erie made 10 of 19 for 52.6 percent. The Bayhawks also shared the ball better, with 31 assists on 41 field goals as opposed to Maine’s 19 on 36.

 “And then defensively, we’re just getting beat to the rim too often. I don’t think we’re the best athletes in the world but we’re good enough to keep our man in front a little longer than we’re doing.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.