SPRINGFIELD, MA- Jerry Smith beat two defenders and buried the game-winning shot as time expired tonight to propel the Springfield Armor to a thrilling 98-96 victory before a raucous crowd of 3,961 inside the MassMutual Center.
In a game that featured 18 lead changes and 11 ties, Iowa had the ball with a chance to win it in regulation with 17.7 seconds to play. The Energy’s Curtis Stinson tried to go one-on-one with the Armor’s Preston Knowles, but an illegal screen by Andrew Drevo sent Knowles tumbling to the floor, giving the Armor the ball back with 3.9 seconds to play near midcourt. On the ensuing possession, Smith took an inbounds pass from Lance Hurdle, shook a pair of defenders and scored the biggest two of his game-high 28 points to seal the victory.
Without the services of NBA Development League All-Stars Jeff Foote (signed with the New Orleans Hornets) and JamesOn Curry (sidelined due to injury), the Armor played one of their gutsier games of the season. Smith was the catalyst all night long, adding team-highs in rebounds (7), assists (5) and steals (5) to his stellar offensive performance. Dennis Horner tallied 19 points, Lance Hurdle and L.D. Williams each scored 16 and Preston Knowles chipped in 11 off the bench and suffocating defense throughout the evening.
Iowa shot well from the field (36-72, 50% FG) and out-rebounded the Armor 45-32, but the Armor managed to force a season-high 27 turnovers and tied their season-high with 14 threes to help edge past the Energy.
With Springfield’s third straight victory over Iowa, the Armor move within 1/2 game of first place in the closely-contested Eastern Conference.
The Armor return to action on the road for a pair of games against the Tulsa 66ers on March 16th and 17th. The Armor don’t return home until a March 24th tilt against the Canton Charge.