Down by seven, Maine finished the game with a 13-2 run to beat Canton 94-90 in the home opener at the Portland Expo in front of 2,405.

“We knew it was a long game,” forward Christian Watford said. “There was still three minutes left. That’s a long time in basketball. We just had to chip away and we’d be right back in it.”

Watford hit the game-winning 3 with 25 seconds left in the game. The Red Claws followed that up with a huge defensive stop to preserve the lead.

“We’ll take it,” Red Claws coach Scott Morrison said. “But it would be nice to get a win before the final three seconds.”

It was a back-and-forth game, featuring runs by both teams. Maine fell behind early and was coming back on the Charge consistently throughout the game. When Canton went up 88-81 late in the fourth, the Red Claws had one last rally in them.

“We stressed to the guys not to get down on ourselves,” said Morrison. “There’s nothing that evaporates faster than a six or seven-point lead at this level.”


Tim Frazier led the Red Claws (3-0) with 18 points and eight assists. Jermaine Taylor added 17 points while Watford had 15 points and nine rebounds. Chris Babb and Andre Stringer were also in double figures with 14 and 12 points respectively.

“We just had to play hard,” Frazier said. “We stayed together. The coaches drew up some great plays. Guys made big shots and we were able to come back and pull out the win.”

Canton (1-2) got 22 points and 10 rebounds from Alex Kirk. Chris Crawford had 20 while Justin Johnson added 18.

Down 88-81, the Red Claws tried to adjust defensively against Canton’s size of Kirk and Michael Dunigan. Maine also tried to pressure the guards more effectively.

“We got a couple of timely steals late in the game,” Morrison said. “That certainly helped us out.”

Frazier started the rally with a drive with 3:54 left. An Omari Johnson jumper got the Claws within 88-85 with 2:21 left. Then after moving the ball around on another possession, Taylor was in the corner and drilled a 3 to tie with 1:00 left.


Canton’s Johnson gave the Charge the lead again with 38 seconds left with a short jumper. That set the stage for Watford.

“In three games, he’s hit a big 3 in each game,” Morrison said. “It wasn’t necessarily a good shooting game throughout, but he’s got confidence in himself. If he gets an open look, we want him to fire it up.”

Watford was at the top of the left side. He took a pass from Frazier and drilled it for a 91-90 lead.

“It was like a spread set,” Watford said. “Tim just found me right away. I saw the man sagging off of me. Tim zipped it right to me. I was ready to shoot the ball.”

Canton had two more chances to rally but stellar defense nixed that. Johnson tied up the Charge with one second left to produce a turnover. After a pair of Frazier free throws made it 93-90, Canton turned the ball over again in the final second. Frazier added another free throw to seal it.

“We had to dig in,” Frazier said. “We had to get a stop. We forced them to take a tough shot and OJ got it as he was shooting it and the ball came our way.”


Canton jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead in the first but the Red Claws used a 10-0 run to build a 17-1 lead. Ralph Sampson had a three-point play and Stringer drilled a 3 during that stretch. Canton then ran off eight straight, led by Kirk’s seven. That gave the Charge a 22-19 lead, but Maine rallied for a 24-23 lead after the quarter with a drive by Sherwood Brown and a basket by Sampson.

Canton opened up the lead in the second quarter with a 9-2 run. The Red Claws finished the half with back-to-back 3’s by Stringer and Babb for a 43-42 lead. Stringer finished the half 4-for-4 from behind the arc. Maine finished the game with 2 3’s overall. Canton had just four.

In the third, Canton opened a five-point lead but Maine used a 9-1 run to make it 61-58. The Red Claws had the lead up to 72-67 after eight straight points, five coming from Watford and three from Taylor. Canton closed the gap with two Johnson baskets in the final five seconds, getting within 72-71.

The game was tied twice early in the fourth. A pair of drives by Frazier pulled the Claws even twice. A 3 from Babb in the corner made it 79-76 but the Claws couldn’t hold the advantage. Canton got a drive from Johnson and a fast break dunk by Dunigan for a one-point lead with 7:27 left.

Maine took the lead with a drive by Taylor with 7:11 left but Canton got a dunk from Kirk and two free throws by Dunigan to open an 84-81 lead with 5:11 left. Kirk muscled one in to make it 86-81 and then Dunigan put back a rebound after the Charge had numerous tries on the offensive boards. That opened up an 88-81 lead with 4:12 left.

“You don’t always want to be playing from behind,” Morrison said. “When you are behind, you don’t want to be thinking about the score. You have to be thinking about getting good possessions. If you get one at a time and chip away, maybe you earn a couple breaks down the stretch.”

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