Grand Rapids, MI — Derek Willis tipped in Dwight Buycks’ missed three-pointer as time expired to give the Grand Rapids Drive (1-0) a season-opening win over the Erie BayHawks (0-1) by an 86-85 margin.
Buycks led the Drive with 21 points and 12 rebounds, Luis Montero had 14 points and 11 boards, and Landry Nnoko scored 17 points and managed six offensive rebounds. Jordan Mathews scored 18 points for Erie and Josh Magette (15 points, 12 assists) and Tyler Cavanaugh (19 points, 11 rebounds) each had double-doubles for the visitors.
In an exciting final two minutes, Erie’s Jalen Morris blocked Montero’s potential go-ahead fast break layup on the previous possession, leaving the Drive with the ball down one with 6.2 seconds to go. Buycks inbounded the ball to Willis and got it back to attempt the three, and Willis was able to sneak in and follow the miss as time expired. The BayHawks waited to see if they would have time for a last-second heave, but under further review the officials ruled the game was over.
The game did not seem like it would have a close finish early, as the Drive were up by 13 points early in the game and held a 28-18 advantage after the first quarter. But they managed just 37 points in the next two quarters as their first game under new head coach Rob Werdann turned into a defensive struggle.
Each team failed to reach 20 points in two quarters each. Erie shot just 36 percent from the floor, but hung with the Drive by surrendering just 11 turnovers to 21 for the home team. The Bayhawks also attempted nearly half their shots from three-point range, going a solid 14-of-39 (36 percent).
Erie appeared to have the upper hand late as Magette drew what looked like a three-shot foul with under a minute to go while the BayHawks clung to a one-point lead, but it was ruled not to be in the act of shooting and the Drive got the subsequent stop.
The Drive will try to keep the early record perfect against Raptors 905 on Sunday as they have their first three games of the season at home. Erie’s next chance to get their first win comes in Maine against the Red Claws, also on Sunday.