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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
The Mad Ants’ Marvin Phillips shoots over Springfield’s David Akinyooye on Friday.

Free-throw woes costly in Ants’ loss

Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
The Mad Ants’ Justin Neuhaus looks to block the shot of Springfield’s David Akinyooye on Friday.

As he stood in the coaches’ locker room, the eyes of Mad Ants coach Joey Meyer were fixated on the white sheet of paper he held.

“The one stat that just jumps out at you is we missed 15 free throws in a three-point game,” he said. “We’ve been one of the better free-throw shooting teams in the league, and then we go out and miss 15 free throws. That makes it hard for you to win, and we don’t have that much margin for error. When you step up to the line and miss 15 in an overtime game, that makes it really hard on you, and that’s what happened.”

That’s what happened, all right. The Ants (2-3) wasted a record-setting night from guard Corey Allmond by frittering away a five-point lead with less than a minute to play in regulation and wound up falling to Springfield (4-1) in overtime 94-91 at Memorial Coliseum on Friday.

With four of the team’s top players in NBA training camps, Allmond, Marvin Phillips and rookie Sadiel Rojas combined for 73 of the team’s 91 points, while the rest of the roster struggled with 5-for-30 shooting.

But Meyer’s assessment was correct when he saw the lethal free throw statistic of 24 of 39.

The Ants probably could have clinched the victory in regulation from the line, but backup point guard Tory Jackson, filling in for the absent Walker Russell Jr., who is in the Detroit Pistons’ training camp, missed two free throws to the right with 16 seconds remaining and the Ants holding an 84-82 lead.

Springfield guard Lance Hurdle muscled his way close, then hit a 10-foot bank shot from the left side to tie the game at 84 with 1.4 seconds remaining.

Twice the score was tied in overtime – at 86 and 88 – but Springfield dropped two jump shots 34 seconds apart to go ahead 92-88.

Allmond, who finished with 32 points and set a franchise record with eight three-pointers, hit his final three with 17.4 seconds left. Hurdle made two free throws with 12.3 seconds remaining for a 94-91 lead, and with Springfield overplaying Allmond, Phillips’ three-point shot was blocked.

Offensively, it was mostly a two-man exhibition between Allmond and Phillips, who finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

The Ants went the entire third quarter with Allmond and Phillips as the only players who made baskets.

“We had a lot of guys who were in the game that haven’t been in the game at the end,” Allmond said. “It’s going to take a learning process to get the plays, rebounds, loose balls – stuff we’ve got to get.”

Meyer admitted the night was “very frustrating.”

“Hey, it’s over with. We’ve got to get on the bus and ride,” Meyer said.

stwarden@jg.net

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