Red Claws Hang on to Win 7th Straight
Portland, ME- The Maine Red Claws, presented by Unum, extended their franchise best start to 11-2 on Saturday night, setting a franchise record for home winning streak (seven in a row) while tying a franchise record for overall winning streak (also seven straight) by downing the Westchester Knicks at the Portland Expo Building, 96-92.
The Knicks (5-9) got out to the early hot start, opening up a seven point lead in the opening quarter, with six players spreading the offense while creating several second chance opportunities. The Red Claws countered with Jermaine Taylor, who scored six in the first while assisting on three, including a Jason Calliste three pointer to tie the game at 17 with 3:51 remaining. The Red Claws shot 10-19 (53%) in the quarter while holding the Knicks to 8-22 (36%) and opened up a 27-23 lead.
Both teams struggled to find a rhythm in the second quarter, with Maine getting back to back dunks from Sherwood Brown from Tim Frazier to cap an 8-0 run, just to be matched by a 10-2 Westchester run that was finished with a Todd Mayo jump shot to tie the game at 41 apiece. Chris Babb hit a jump shot with 4.1 seconds remaining to put Maine on top 43-41 heading into halftime. Babb finished the half with 11 to lead the Red Claws while Thanasis Antetokounmpo had eight and four rebounds for the Knicks.
Babb sandwiched a pair of jumpers around an Omari Johnson basket to extend the lead back to eight to open the quarter, but the Knicks battled back to tie the game at 58 with 4:00 remaining on a powerful Antetokounmpo dunk from Ben Strong and took the lead 50 seconds later on a Sanchez jumper. The lead was short lived, however, as Taylor buried a three for Maine with 2:43 remaining to take a 61-60 lead, a lead the hosts wouldn't relinquish, adding three more to the tally to head into the final frame with a 64-60 advantage.
The fourth quarter saw both teams explode on offense, with each team putting up 32 points, Maine on 8-16 (50%) shooting and Westchester on 12-20 (60%). The difference in the quarter came at the free throw line, as Maine converted 8-10 free throws in the final 1:11 to hold off the Knicks' charge and secure the franchise record seventh consecutive home win.
Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 22 points, adding six rebounds (five offensive) and two steals. Langston Galloway added 21 (10 in the fourth quarter) while grabbing nine rebounds. Darnell Jackson chipped in 12 while securing eight rebounds and Mayo had 11.
Babb led the Red Claws with 21 points, nine rebounds. Taylor finished with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists). Tim Frazier filled up the stat sheet with 14 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Andre Stringer rounds out the Red Claws in double figures with 11 points. The defense was anchored by Ralph Sampson III, with nine points, six rebounds and four blocked shots and Asauhn Dixon-Tatum, with seven points, six rebounds and three blocks.
The Red Claws head to Iowa on Friday, Dec. 26 before returning home for a 1 p.m. game against Canton on Sunday, Dec. 28.
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