SPRINGFIELD, MA- The Springfield Armor defeated the Sioux Falls Skyforce 89-82 in front of a franchise-record crowd of 6,061 fans inside the MassMutual Center tonight. The Armor (27-19) led wire-to-wire to sweep the Skyforce (14-33) and conclude their regular season home schedule with a franchise and Eastern Conference-best 18-6 record.
The Armor and Skyforce started the game slowly on the heels of last nightís double overtime game, with Sioux Falls falling behind 11-2 and needing nearly half of the first quarter to finally get their second basket of the opening period. Springfield opened up a 12-point lead, 21-9, on a Damian Johnson put-back dunk with 2:44 to go in the first, but the Skyforce closed the gap to 21-14 by the end of the period. Johnson tallied 9 points and Jerry Smith added 8 points and 4 rebounds in the opening quarter.
Sioux Falls battled back in the second, outscoring the Armor 29-24 to trim the deficit to two, 45-43, by halftime. The Skyforce shot 12-22 (.545) in the quarter, led by Brian Hamiltonís 11 points off the bench. Jeff Foote scored a team-high 11 points in the first half, while the Skyforceís Hamilton netted 14.
For the fourth straight game, the Armor made their move in the third quarter. The Armor used a 12-4 run late in the quarter to open up a game-high 14-point lead and rolled into the end of the third quarter with a 70-58 advantage. The Armor buried 10-20 shots in the quarter, led by Smith, who knocked down 4-4 shots from the field and 4-6 from the foul line for 12 of his game-high 23 points.
In the fourth, the Skyforce continued to claw back into the game, cutting the lead to as little as three twice, but Springfield had an answer each time Sioux Falls threatened to take the lead. JamesOn Curry scored 8 of his 15 points (6-7 from the foul line) in the quarter to help seal the Armorís fifth straight victory and 12th win in their last 13 home games.
Foote posted his team-high 12th double-double tonight, scoring 16 points and grabbing a season-high 15 rebounds. Johnson added his second double-double of the season with 17 points and a season-high 11 rebounds (8 on the offensive glass). Smith chipped in with 23 points and 9 rebounds and Curry contributed 15 points and a team-high 5 assists to the winning effort.
Hamilton led Sioux Falls with 20 points and 5 steals, Curtis Withers registered a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Marqus Blakely scored 12 points. One night after Trey Gilder and Anthony Mason, Jr. combined for 49 points (17-31 from the field), the Armor held the duo to 22 points (9-24 from the field).
The Skyforce continues its road trip on Tuesday with a game against the Dakota Wizards. The Armor head to Maine on Sunday for their 10th and final matchup of the season against the Red Claws. The game is scheduled to tip at 5:00 p.m. at the Portland Expo.