Portland, ME – The Maine Red Claws, presented by Unum, got big performances from their Two-Way players down the stretch, hanging on for a 103-100 win over Fort Wayne in front of a sold out crowd at the Portland Expo.
Maine (2-0) was led by Tremont Waters and Tacko Fall. Waters hit crucial free throws down the stretch, finishing with 17 points and 7 assists. Fall had a huge double-double with 16 points, 13 rebounds and 6 blocks. Yante Maten led Maine with 22 points and 10 boards in the win, and Bryce Brown scored 16.
Fort Wayne (0-3) was led by Naz Mitrou-Long who finished with a game-high 28 points.
The Red Claws and Mad Ants traded buckets early. Waters buried a three, picking up where he left off last game. Travin Thibodeaux’s early two buckets helped Fort Wayne to an early 12-7 lead. Tacko’s putback followed by Bryce Brown’s three gave Maine a 16-12 lead. Fall’s big blocks helped carry Maine, but the Mad Ants held a 25-24 lead after 1.
In the 2nd, Tacko started the period with a monster jam to put the Claws up 1. The Red Claws opened the quarter on a 13-2 run, and Jaysean Paige’s three-ball put Maine up 37-27, and the run extended to 17-2 before the Mad Ants stopped the bleeding. Langford left the game with an ankle injury, but Maine continued the offensive and defensive pressure to maintain the double-digit lead. Fall grabbed his 11th rebound to finish with 12 and 11 in the first half, and the Red Claws led 47-36 at halftime. Maine shot only 38.8% (19-49) from the floor in the first half, and just 4-20 from downtown (20%).
Wayne Blackshear opened the 3rd quarter with a triple, and Maine got back to a 15 point lead at 53-38. Brown buried back-to-back three’s to put Maine up 65-52, but the Mad Ants answered with a three of their own. Still, the Red Claws maintained the lead, up 78-67 after 3. In the 4th, Jaysean Paige’s monster slam got the crowd fired up and put Maine up 9. The Mad Ants didn’t go away. Maten’s put-back put the Claws up 95-88 with 3:00 to go. Ike Nwamu’s deep three cut it to 4. After another Fort Wayne bucket, the Mad Ants got the ball back down 95-93. Waters three-point play put the Red Claws away for good.
Maine shot 37.9% (36-95) from the floor, 23.3% (10-43) from three-point range, and 14-19 from the free throw line. Fort Wayne shot 44% (40-91) from the field, 25.9% (7-27) from downtown, and 10-13 from the charity stripe.