SPRINGFIELD, MA- Jerry Smith knocked down three free throws with 0.3 seconds left in double overtime to lift the Springfield Armor to a 115-113 victory over the Sioux Falls Skyforce tonight inside the MassMutual Center. With the victory and the Canton Chargeís loss to the Iowa Energy tonight, the Armor move into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with five games remaining in the regular season.
Sioux Fallsí Marqus Blakely buried a free throw to open up the game, as the Armor (26-19) and Skyforce (14-32) traded leads six times in the opening period. Behind Trey Gilderís 14 first-quarter points (6-6 FG), Sioux Falls led 27-26 after one quarter.
The Armor responded with 35 second-quarter points, led by Lance Hurdleís 12 points in the period. Springfield buried 13-21 (.619) shots in the quarter to take a 61-56 lead into halftime.
In the third quarter, the Armor opened up their largest lead of the evening, 89-72, on a Jamar Brown tip-in with 1:43 to go. The Armor outscored the Skyforce 29-18 in the quarter to earn a 90-74 advantage heading into the fourth.
In the fourth, Sioux Falls battled back into the game as the Armor went cold from the field. The Skyforce opened the quarter on a 12-2 run and erased the entire 16-point deficit with a Gilder jumper with 9.2 seconds to play in regulation to tie the game, 100-100. A Smith shot attempt at the buzzer caromed off the back iron, forcing the Armorís first overtime game since January 5. The Armor scored a season-low 10 points in the quarter, shooting 2-19 (.105) from the field.
Springfield led by as many as six points in the first overtime, but Sioux Fallsí Gabe Pruitt hit a pair of three-pointers to keep the Skyforce within striking distance. Two Gilder free throws tied the game with 6.2 seconds to go, but a Hurdle jumper was off the mark, as the two teams headed to a second overtime period, tied 110-110.
In the second overtime, after a Johnson jumper gave Springfield the early edge, but another Pruitt three propelled the Skyforce into the lead for the first time since the end of the first quarter. The Armor put the ball in Smithís hands for the final possession and Smith managed to draw a foul on Anthony Mason, Jr. with 0.3 seconds remaining, trailing 113-112. Smith sank all three free throws to ice the Armorís fourth straight victory and 11th win in their last 12 home games.
Six players scored in double figures for the Armor, with JamesOn Curry (19 points, 8 assists), Jeff Foote (19 points, 6 rebounds) and Smith (19 points, 8 rebounds) leading the way. L.D. Williams (16 points), Johnson (12 points, 9 rebounds) and Hurdle (12 points) all contributed double figures.
Gilder led the Skyforce with a season-high 33 points and Blakely (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Mason, Jr. (16 points, 10 rebounds) added the gameís only double-doubles. Pruitt came off the bench to score 22 points and Curtis Withers tallied 12 points.
The Armor and Skyforce return to action tomorrow night in the Armorís regular season home finale at 7:00 p.m. inside the MassMutual Center.