Armor Capture Thrilling Overtime Victory

SPRINGFIELD, MA Dec. 17, 2010- The Springfield Armor blew a 17-point second half lead, but made up for it in overtime as they went on to defeat the Idaho Stampede 109-102 Saturday night in front of a raucous crowd at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

The Armor managed to snap a five-game losing streak on a night when former Boston Celtic and three-time All-Star Antoine Walker returned to Massachusetts for the first time since his NBA days. Walker scored a game-high 27 points in the losing effort.

“Antoine looked great,” said Armor coach Dee Brown, who was also his teammate with the Celtics. “He looked like he did 6-7 years ago.”

Springfield entered the fourth quarter with a 9-point lead, but the Stampede outscored the Armor 27-18 in the final quarter thanks in large part to Lance Hurdle, who connected on four threes in the quarter.

The Stampede even seized the lead with just under 10 seconds to play, but Tre Whitted went coast to coast and was fouled by Carlos Wheeler with .7 seconds remaining. Whitted calmly sank both free throws to force overtime.

In the overtime period, the Armor took over. The Armor jumped out to a 6-point lead on a pair of threes from Jerry Smith and Scottie Reynolds. After a series of fouls by Idaho to prolong the game (53 fouls were committed between the two teams), the Armor came away with the 109-102 triumph . “We’ve been in this situation the last five games,” Brown said. “You’ve got to be proud that they fight.”

The Armor looked to have a comfortable lead going into the second half. After ending the first quarter tied at 22, the Armor opened up a double digit lead. The Springfield defense held the Stampede to just 5 of 14 shooting in the second quarter. But the Stampede would turn it around in the third.

In the third quarter the Armor had no answer for Walker and Luke Jackson. The two combined for 19 of the team’s 22 third quarter points, which helped Idaho cut the lead to single digits heading into the fourth.

In the end, the Armor finally managed to pull out a close victory. The Armor put forth a balanced attack offensively, with eight players scoring in double figures. Reynolds and Vernon Goodridge led the way with 18 points each, while Smith (17 points) and Whitted (10 points) came off the bench to play crucial roles. “That’s something we take pride in,” said Whitted. “Coming off the bench and being prepared.”

The Stampede were led by Walker and Jackson, each of whom finished with 27 points.

The Stampede return to Maine on Sunday to take on the Red Claws for the second time in three days. The Armor wil hit the road next weekend, with games in Fort Wayne (7:00 p.m.) on Saturday and Maine (5:00 p.m.) on Sunday.