The Springfield Armor picked up the biggest win of their current six-game win streak. The Armor (19-13) took down the Eastern Conference-leading Iowa Energy (19-10) 117-102 (box score) Thursday night at the MassMutual Center.
In a physical battle from start to finish, Springfield took the lead early, breaking a 12-12 tie with 13 unanswered points. The Armor would close out the final six minutes of the first quarter, outscoring the Energy 20-8.
“We did a good job of coming out and playing hard,” said Armor head coach Bob MacKinnon. “We kept our poise and composure during the game.”
JamesOn Curry fueled the team in the first half, with 14 of his 19 points coming in the first quarter. Along with fellow guard Jerry Smith, Curry provided nice pressure on defense, helping the Armor force 11 first half Iowa turnovers.
“JamesOn has been so consistent this year it’s phenomenal,” said MacKinnon.
However, the Armor left the door open late in the half for Iowa. The Energy began to chip away at the lead and cut it as close as six.
The Energy backcourt caused the burst. Guard Mike Efevberha scored 18 of his game-high 34 points in the second quarter, while point guard Curtis Stinson was an excellent facilitator, dishing out nine assists in the quarter.
Springfield began the second half with another strong performance, stretching the lead back up to double digits. Iowa would get it to single digits on several occasions, but not enough to make a run at the suddenly-hot Armor.
With five minutes to play in the third quarter, Iowa forward Patrick Ewing Jr. was ejected after his second personal foul following a scuffle with Armor forward Dennis Horner.
On his way out of the arena, Ewing removed his jersey and got into a confrontation with a fan.
Iowa head coach Kevin Young was quick to follow Ewing to the locker, after he picked up his second technical foul, upset that Horner was not issued a technical as well.
“This is one of the most contentious games I’ve ever been a part of,” said Armor center Jeff Foote. “I’m from the Ivy League, we’re not used to this.”
Aside from the two ejections, two other technical fouls were called, both on Springfield.
A chippy game throughout has set the stage for Friday night’s rematch back at the MassMutual Center.
“We’ll try and make the improvements we need to make and hopefully we’ll come out with a good effort,” said MacKinnon.
Jerry Smith and L.D. Williams (like Curry) finished with 19 points. Preston Knowles had 17 points off the bench. Curry also led the team with 11 assists.
Click below for Armor center and Cornell graduate Jeff Foote on his rookie season, All-Star selection, and New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin