FORT WAYNE – Darnell Lazare, the Mad Ants’ captain, stood waiting beneath the basket for a foul to be called on somebody wearing a black uniform after he attacked the rim in the second quarter.
Although there was no whistle, Lazare still lingered as he eyed the nearest official. Realizing there wouldn’t be a call, he began a slow jog up the floor, reaching the half court line just as Springfield guard Jerry Smith made a 5-on-4 layup to put the Armor ahead by 26 points.
The moment that took only seconds to play out symbolized the entire first-half effort – or lack thereof – that led to a 118-87 loss to Springfield on Sunday at Memorial Coliseum. The 31-point setback was the worst loss of the season for the Ants (10-21), surpassing the 21-point loss they had in Canton, Ohio, on Friday.
It also extended the Ants’ losing streak to five – longest of the D-League season.
By the time the first half mercifully ended, Springfield (18-13) led 73-41. It had hit 60 percent of its shots, outrebounded the Ants by 11 and had 10 more assists.
It was very disappointing for a fan, for a coach, for the mascot – anybody in the first half, Ants coach Steve Gansey said.
We didn’t come out and play hard. I don’t mind losing games – I do – but the thing I mind is when we don’t show heart, when we don’t show effort, we don’t play hard. That’s unacceptable. When you go out there and you act like you don’t want to be there, that’s what I have a problem with, and that’s what it was the first half. We’re going to get after it this week in practice because that was a terrible showing out there.
It didn’t take long for the Ants to fall into a hole from which they never recovered. Gansey called a timeout with 3:09 gone in the game with the hopes of cutting into the early 10-2 deficit. Another timeout came with 3:18 left in the quarter, when the Ants trailed 24-12. And by the time Gansey called time with 2:10 left in the first half, Smith had hit his 5-on-4 layup and the Armor (18-13) had drained a three-pointer for a 63-34 lead.
Me being the captain of this team, me being one of the leaders, I shouldn’t give up on a play like that, said Lazare, who came into the game with an 18.5 scoring average but had seven Sunday. But it was one of those frustration moments for me, and it was a mistake on my part.
Gansey agreed but didn’t put all of the blame at Lazare’s feet.
It’s everybody, he said. It shouldn’t even start with our captain. He’s the guy that everyone looks up to. If he’s not doing it, no one else will do it, and that’s unacceptable. It was everybody in the first half that played. It was embarrassing. That’s my team. That’s the team I coach. It was embarrassing for myself, too.
Guard Devan Downey led the Ants with 20 points.