Springfield Armor guard JamesOn Curry spent the last two nights in the gym with his head coach, Bob MacKinnon, working on his shot. And when the Armor needed it most, Curry delivered, hitting crucial shots on the Armor’s way to a 113-111 victory Thursday night against the Erie BayHawks.
Springfield (8-7) and Erie (6-10) started the overtime period with multiple chances to break the 108-108 tie. It wasn’t until a trio of Armor free throws gave them a slim 111-108 lead.
With just under a minute to play, Curry used a screen at the top of the key and saw his shot take a friendly bounce of the front rim, then the backboard, finally falling through the net.
“He’s been terrific all year,” said MacKinnon. “He knows the game. He knows how to play. He’s in the right spots all the time.”
Erie never gave up, trailing by five with 40 seconds remaining; Kyle Spain hit a three-pointer, cutting the lead to 113-111. Springfield’s Jerry Smith missed a three-pointer, giving Erie one more chance with 9.5 seconds.
Devin Green, who had a game-high 34 points, held the ball out of the wing for six seconds before making his move and taking a contested, fade away three over L.D. Williams, before hitting the front iron as time expired.
“I thought we played good solid defense there,” said MacKinnon. “I thought L.D. did a great job contesting.”
Curry, who scored 19 of his 27 after the first half, nailed shots in the last minute of regulation to help force overtime. Curry hit a step back jumper over Green with 14.5 seconds remaining to tie the game at 108.
Then the game saw a bizarre series of events occur.
Erie called a timeout and on the ensuing inbounds, BayHawks point guard B.J. Jenkins, being harassed by Armor guard Lance Hurdle, fumbled the pass into the backcourt resulting in a backcourt violation.
It seemed Springfield would end it in regulation, but they too had problems putting the ball in play. Williams was called for a five-second violation, failing to throw the ball in or call a timeout.
Erie did get the ball in the next time, but Hurdle forced a jump ball with Jenkins. Hurdle tapped it back to Jerry Smith, who raced down the sideline, but was met at the rim by two Erie defenders and Smith couldn’t connect on a reverse layup attempt.
Springfield trailed for much of the first half, but early in the third quarter, the Armor took the lead back from the BayHawks.
“We came in a halftime and said we needed to defend better,” said MacKinnon. “It was more about us getting stops. When we get stops were fine at the other end.”
In the third quarter alone, the teams swapped the lead 15 times. The overtime contest was a great one from start to finish, with 33 lead changes and 11 ties.
“I though the fans that came got a good treat,” said MacKinnon of the 1,749 fans in attendance at the MassMutual Center.
Jeff Foote had 27 points and eight rebounds, while Smith had 20 points, while dishing out six dimes for Springfield. Kyle Spain had 20 points, six boards, and four assists.
It was the first home game of the year at home for the Armor. Springfield just came off a grueling two-week road trip that ending with the Armor dropping five of seven.
Coincidentally, the Armor’s final home game before the road trip was an overtime loss to the BayHawks.
Springfield likes to keep games interesting, winning all eight games by single digits.
“We don’t always play well, but we’re going to play hard and tough,” said MacKinnon. “When you do that you stay in games.”
Springfield hosts Erie again Saturday night at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. This will be the last time these two teams meet until April.
Notes: Bob MacKinnon earned his eighth win of the season, one more win than former Armor coach Dee Brown, now with the Detroit Pistons, had in his entire first season with the Armor in 2009-2010…Former Armor forward Dennis Horner played in his fourth game of the season Wednesday night against Boston. Horner didn’t record a point or a rebound in his four minutes of garbage time in the Nets 89-70 loss…According to reports, Saturday night former NBA point guard Mike James has agreed to play for the Erie BayHawks. He last played in 2009-2010 for the Washington Wizards, but appeared in only four games. James, an eight-year veteran, should be active for Saturday against Springfield…Yahoo! columnist Adrian Wojnarowski was in attendance at the MassMutual Center Wednesday night. According to MacKinnon Wojnarowski said it was the best D-League/NBA game he’s seen all year.