PORTLAND, Maine – The Maine Red Claws, presented by Unum, went up big then held on for a 111-108 win.
Maine (13-13) entered the game short-handed, after Andrew White signed a two-way contract with the Atlanta Hawks earlier in the day. The Claws were led by Boston Celtics assignee Guerschon Yabusele with 32 points on 13-for-26 shooting and eight rebounds. Trey Davis led the bench with 22 points on 8-for-14 from the floor. Celtics two-way player Kadeem Allen with 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Anthony Bennett added 15 points and 11 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double.
Austin (15-12) was led by Jeff Ledbetter with 30 points on 10-for-21 shooting off the bench.
Yabusele opened the scoring for Maine with back-to-back 3-pointers, one straight on, and one from the corner. The Dancing Bear followed that up with a steal and three-point play the hard way. Yabusele’s personal 9-0 run had the Red Claws off to a hot start. Darrun Hilliard and the Spurs cut into the lead, getting it to 17-14. Trey Davis continued the hot outside shooting with a pair of 3s of his own. Livio Jean-Charles’ back-to-back buckets gave Austin the lead at 24-22. The Spurs led 26-24 after one.
In the second, Yabusele opened the scoring with an emphatic slam. Jeff Ledbetter continued a strong first half by burying a triple and giving Austin a 33-26 lead. Yabusele blocked a shot on one end, then knocked in a trey on the other. The Red Claws regained the lead on a Yabusele driving dunk and an ensuing Yabu layup. The Red Claws took a 48-45 lead. Davis capped off an 18-point half with another bucket, and Yabusele made it 20 points with a reverse lay-in. The Red Claws led 54-49 at halftime.
Anthony Bennett started the third quarter with a 3-ball, and Allen’s steal and lay-in quickly made it a 10-point lead. Austin came back, but Allen’s back-to-back lay-ins maintained the lead for Maine. Bennett knocked in another triple to give Maine a 73-65 lead. Yabusele’s follow lay-up put Maine up 11, and his monster slam followed by a Josh Adeyeye three-point play had the Red Claws in cruise control. The Red Claws out-scored the Spurs 39-24 in the third, taking a 93-73 lead.
Austin started the fourth quarter on an 11-0 run, cutting the lead to nine. Ledbetter knocked in a 3 to make it 95-87 Red Claws. The Spurs run extended to 16-2 to start the quarter, making it 95-89. The Spurs cut it to four. Ledbetter hit a deep 3 and the lead was just two at 96-94. Yabusele made Maine’s first field goal of the quarter with 4:30 to go to stop the run. Bennett’s putback slam righted the ship for the Claws. A three-point game in the final :28, Jean-Charles made a bucket to cut it to 109-108. Peak made 2 crucial free throws to go up 3 with :07.5 to go.
Maine shot 45.7 percent (42-for-92) from the floor, 30.6 percent (11-for-36) from downtown, and 16-for-22 from the free throw line. Austin shot 47.1 percent (40-for-85) from the field, 37.9 percent (11-for-29) from deep, and 17-for-19 from the charity stripe.