Springfield Armor win third straight, beating Erie BayHawks

Chris Marion Photography

Darius Johnson-Odom put up a double-double of 18 points and 11 boards and the Armor extended their first winning streak of the season to three Monday. DJO was helped by Adonis Thomas, the 20-year-old forward who led the Armor with 23 points on 9-of-20 shooting, including 3-of-5 from deep. Jeff Foote, the veteran seven-footer, started at center and added 20 points and 13 rebounds.

Johnson-Odum, the ex-Laker, is now ranked the fourth best prospect in the D-League. Under league rules, any team can call him, either on a 10-day contract or for the rest of the season. Sundiata Gaines, acquired last week, has not yet joined the Armor.

Doug Overton had particular praise for Foote, the Cornell product who got a call-up from New Orleans two years ago, then won the Lithuanian championship last season.

"He just works so hard," Overton said. "Give credit to (assistant) Coach (Chris) Carrawell for working with him, developing his moves. He's continuing to build confidence."

Capitalizing on a 19-point first-quarter lead, the Armor (9-17) were able to withstand a late run by the visiting BayHawks (8-20), the Knicks' affiliate, inside the MassMutual Center.

The Armor continued their recent torrid pace through first quarters, pushing their lead as high as 20 on Monday night before entering the second with a 36-17 edge on the BayHawks. All five starters registered points in the opening frame, led by Thomas’ nine. Springfield used a slew of baskets around the rim to build its 19-point advantage, outscoring Erie 16-8 in the paint.

Springfield continued the rest of the first half without relinquishing its lead, taking a 59-44 edge into the locker room behind 14 first-half points from Foote. The Armor’s center went 6-of-7 from the field and pulled down six boards through the first 24 minutes, while Erie’s leading scorer came off the bench as C.J. Leslie paced the BayHawks offense with 13 points.

Erie cut the Armor lead into single digits in the third, outscoring Springfield 26-20 in the period as Leslie poured in 11 to bring his total to 24 through three quarters on the night. After the Armor held a 16-8 advantage in the paint after one, the BayHawks went on to total 34 points down low over the next two quarters to aid the rally.

Trailing by nine at 79-70 heading into the fourth, Erie used a 9-0 run to tie the game for the first time as the Armor offense was held scoreless for more than three minutes. After a pair of free throws from Foote gave the Armor an 81-79 edge, Springfield closed the fourth quarter by outscoring the BayHawks 23-19 over the final eight minutes for the 104-98 victory, never allowing Erie to draw even again. Through the last minute, Springfield connected on 5-of-6 free throws, including three from Quinn McDowell, to ice the team’s third straight win.

All five starters for the Armor logged double figures as that group collectively shot 7-of-15 from beyond the arc.

Erie outscored Springfield 81-68 over the final three quarters, but the Armor’s 19-point first-quarter lead withstood the late push. Leslie ended his night with a game-high 31 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the field. The BayHawks bench accounted for 61 of Erie’s 98 points on the night with three players logging double digit scoring totals (Ricky Davis, the 34-year-old ex-NBA player: 17, Terence Jennings: 11).

Springfield will now travel to Maine to take on the Red Claws on Friday, February 7 at 7:00 p.m. before returning to the MassMutual Center on Saturday, February 8 at 7:00 p.m. to host the Canton Charge.

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