SPRINGFIELD, MA -- The Springfield Armor opened the 2011-12 season in grand fashion with a hard-fought 94-87 victory over the Maine Red Claws at the MassMutual Center tonight.
The win marked a sparkling debut for the Armor's new coaching staff, led by head coach Bob MacKinnon and assistant coach Chris Carrawell.
Springfield shot just 32.9% from the field (28-85), but the Armor compensated for their rough night from the field by shooting 32-39 from the foul line (82.1%) and forcing 24 turnovers.
The Armor led by as many as 12 points in the second half, but the Red Claws managed to cut the deficit to three with 17.5 seconds to play before Jerry Smith sank four clutch free throws to ice the victory.
Smith, one of six Armor players to return from the 2010-11 season, led a balanced scoring attack with 22 points. All five Armor starters scored in double figures, including double-doubles from veteran Jamar Brown (12 points, 10 rebounds) and newcomer Dennis Horner (15 points, 10 rebounds).
LD Williams added 17 points, JamesOn Curry chipped in with 11 (all in the second half) and former Red Claw, Eugene Spates, contributed 10 points and 9 rebounds off the bench.
J.R. Reynolds led Maine with 22 points, while rookies Durrell Summers and Chris Wright scored 16 points apiece in the losing effort.
The Armor have now won two straight against the rival Red Claws.
The Armor (1-0) will have a week off before returning to the court on Friday, December 2 when they take on the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (1-0) at 7:00 p.m. at the MassMutual Center.