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The Journal Gazette

  •   Shawn Patrick Ouellette | Portland Press Herald Maine's Abdel Nader drives to the basket on the Mad Ants' Trey McKinney-Jones during Game 3 of their playoff series Wednesday in Portland, Maine.  

  • Shawn Patrick Ouellette | Portland Press Herald Maine's Abdel Nader drives to the basket on the Mad Ants' Trey McKinney-Jones during Game 3 of their playoff series Wednesday in Portland, Maine.

  • Shawn Patrick Ouellette | Portland Press Herald Maine's Coron Williams drives to the basket against the Mad Ants' Marquis Teague during Game 3 of their playoff series Wednesday in Portland, Maine.

  • Shawn Patrick Ouellette | Portland Press Herald Maine's Malcolm Miller drives to the basket as the Mad Ants' Stephan Hicks defends during Game 3 of their playoff series Wednesday in Portland, Maine.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 9:40 pm

Mad Ants' season spins away in Game 3 loss

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Trey McKinney Jones had 30 points for the Mad Ants, but his drive with 19 seconds left somehow spun off the rim in the most heartbreaking moment of a season-ending 124-119 loss to the Maine Red Claws tonight in Portland, Maine.

With the 2-1 victory in the best-of-3 series, the Red Claws earned a trip to the Eastern Conference finals against top-seeded Raptors 905 that will begin Sunday, while the Mad Ants were left wondering how they let another lead slip away.

They were up 100-92 after a McKinney Jones free throw with 9:01 remaining, in front of 1,259 fans at the Portland Expo Building. But the Red Claws went on a 20-6 run, culminating with a Jalen Jones 3-pointer for a 112-106 lead with 4:13 remaining.

A thunderous dunk by Maine’s Abdel Nader, who found a gaping hole through the lane, put the Red Claws up 118-115 with 28.2 seconds remaining. The Mad Ants opted to eschew the 3-point attempt in favor of a McKinney Jones drive, but it spun off.

The Mad Ants wouldn’t go away – Travis Leslie’s 3-pointer with 15.2 seconds left cut it to 122-118 – but the Red Claws’ free thrown shooting was strong down the stretch.

As had been the case in their Game 1 loss, the Mad Ants got away from their inside game and began shooting too much from outside in the second half. They finished with 51-percent shooting from the field but were only 6 of 24 from 3-point range.

Maine, which was 56 percent from the field, made 11 of 26 from beyond the arc.

Leslie had 24 points for the Mad Ants, who made the playoffs for the first time since the Indiana Pacers bought them in 2015. Tyler Hansbrough had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Georges Niang had 17 points.

Maine’s Jones had 30 points. Guerschon Yabusele had 26 points and nine rebounds. Nader had 26 points. Former Notre Dame star Demetrius Jackson had only two points in 19 minutes for Maine.

jcohn@jg.net