I was wrong, and I'm glad I was wrong. I wrote in the preview that Erie would likely be playing with eight players. Fortunately, Mike Gansey made his return after missing five games in a row for the BayHawks with a calf injury. He was hands down the best BayHawk on this night, so it was only fitting that he hit a pair of free throws with 5 seconds left that put the BayHawks up 95-94.
By all accounts, it was a game the Armor should have won. Erie led for most of the first three quarters, but they let Springfield hang around despite a subpar game from Morris Almond, who finished with 24 points and 8 rebounds but 0 assists and 6 turnovers. After hanging around all game, Springfield finally sprung ahead in the fourth, leading by as many as 8 with just 4:05 left. But Erie stormed back with an 13-4 run, capped off by the Gansey free throws.
For the sake of full disclosure, the BayHawks may have been bailed out by a non-call on the game's final possession. I only got one look at it, but in live action Almond certainly seemed to draw contact worthy of a foul call as he drove to the basket in the closing seconds. He didn't get the call, instead was credited with a turnover, and that was the game.
BayHawks player notes:
- Gansey was great in his first game back from injury. Playing a team-high 45 minutes, he led the way with 25 points on 9-15 shooting, including 5-8 from 3 to go with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.
- Cliff Clinkscales will never be mistaken for a jump shooter, but he had his second straight solid performance filling in as the starting (and only) point guard for the called-up Cedric Jackson. He scored 12 points on 6-12 shooting to go along with 14 assists and just 2 turnovers. He did, however, have to leave the game late with an apparent leg injury. Without him on the court, Gansey and Frank Tolbert shared ballhandling duties. Neither player looked comfortable in that role, and the team's offense did not have the same rhythm and flow when Clinkscales was out.
- Jackie Manuel remains the most consistent player for the BayHawks—not necessarily as a shooter, though he was on tonight—but in the way that he seems to leave his mark on most games with his defense, energy, and intangibles. He nearly had another drive for a posterizing dunk, but was fouled and failed to finish the slam.
- Disappointingly, both Alade Aminu and John Bryant were not overly effective in this game. Aminu attempted just 9 shots, scoring 16 points with 8 rebounds. Meanwhile Bryant played just 22 minutes, scoring 11 on 4-8 shooting with 5 rebounds.
- After scoring a season-high 10 points two games ago, Kyle Goldcamp did not play at all in this game.
Now 11-15 on the year, the BayHawks have a tough road ahead of them. Next up, Erie goes on the road to meet a 15-9 Maine Red Claws team on Friday. The BayHawks have yet to beat Maine in four tries this season, losing by an average of more than 12 points per game. Then, on Saturday, Erie will travel to Springfield, where they'll undoubtedly encounter an Armor team hell bent on revenge after tonight's controversial defeat. Following the two game trip east, Erie has four straight against the D-League's top team, the Iowa Energy.