Shelvin Mack will have a hard time forgetting the finish to Maine’s 101-100 loss Sunday to the Erie BayHawks.
Mack’s potential game-winning shot bounced high off the rim and appeared to have a chance to drop, but Chris Wright tipped the ball in after the final buzzer.
“I don’t like to think about it,” he said. “It’s over with. Probably make me mad.”
The refs ruled Wright’s tip came after the final buzzer.
“I thought Shelvin’s look was a clean look,” Maine coach Mike Taylor said. “It just rimmed out. In my opinion, clearly the tip was after the red buzzer.”
While Downs and Taylor are certain the tip-in came after the buzzer, Erie forward Tirrell Baines wasn’t so sure the shot wouldn’t have went in had Wright left it alone.
“It looked like it was going in, but thank God it didn’t fall,” Baines said. “It’s hard to tell. It’s hard to tell.”
The only thing certain is Maine had its four-game winning streak snapped before 2,132 fans at Erie Insurance Arena. The Red Claws actually started their string of wins with a 113-111 win Dec. 6 at Erie. They were also 4-0 on the road.
“Sometimes we come out and play lackadaisical, but they’re a good team,” Mack said. “Their record doesn’t say that, but they’re a great team. They play hard.”
Mack had a game-high 25 points in leading the Red Claws back from an 18-point deficit. His 3-point play gave Maine a 100-99 lead with 12.5 seconds left.
Erie re-took the lead on D.J. Kennedy’s two free throws with 6.2 seconds left.
“They called my number and I had to be ready to make the play,” Kennedy said. “I knew I was going to knock them down.”
With the right side cleared out, the left-handed Kennedy drove on Micah Downs and drew the foul.
“It was a tough situation,” Downs said. “I felt like I played pretty good defense on him. I felt like my hands were back and he tried to create contact by jumping into me. I got a block at the end. The ref made the call.”
Taylor called a 20-second timeout to set up the game’s final play.
Mack took the inbounds pass, dribbled right on Nick Covington and got him in the air on a pump fake on the baseline.
Not in an ideal position to elevate, Mack gathered himself and took a 10-foot jumper that Erie forward Mychel Thompson came over to contest.
The ball rattled on the rim and went upward. As the ball was coming down, the explosive Wright leaped up and tipped in the ball after the buzzer.
The D-League uses the international rules that allow players to tip in the ball if it’s on the rim, but players can’t do it after the final buzzer.
“Based on the rules, at the end of the game, when the ball is up on the rim and the shot clock expires, it’s not a live ball,” Erie coach Gene Cross said.
Downs didn’t blame Wright for trying to make a play on the ball.
“He had the best look at it,” Downs said.
Unfortunately for the Red Claws, they’ll never know if the ball would have went in had Wright not touched it.