FORT WAYNE – Anyone at Memorial Coliseum could sense what was coming when Mad Ants interim coach Steve Gansey started stomping his feet in frustration as his team’s 13-point second-quarter lead dissipated.
The Mad Ants have yet to prove they know how to put other teams away and, even though they have been showing marked improvement lately, Sunday brought another loss – 81-79 to the Tulsa 66ers in front of 4,294 fans.
It was Fort Wayne’s 13th loss in its last 14 games.
We gave this one away. That’s what it boils down to, said Ron Howard, who had 21 points, including 14 in the second quarter, when it looked for a spell as if the Mad Ants might actually cruise to victory.
Instead of a cruise, it was another bumpy ride to the loss column.
The 66ers began chipping away with their inside game.
By the time Tulsa’s Marcus Lewis somehow scored while lying on the floor, also drawing a foul on Ben McCauley, the 66ers had their first lead at 50-48 with 8:59 remaining in the third.
It didn’t get any better for the Mad Ants thereafter.
Tulsa’s Dwight Buycks made a fade-away jump shot with 52.1 seconds left in the game for a 80-79 lead, and Jerome Dyson added a free throw.
Fort Wayne (11-29) missed its final three shots, including Darnell Lazare’s three-pointer as time expired.
The Mad Ants made 40.5 percent of their shots in the game, while the 66ers made 48.5 percent of theirs.
Losing becomes a habit. It becomes a mentality, and we’ve got to break that habit, said Fort Wayne’s Anthony Goods, who had a game-best 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting in his second game with the team this season.
Lazare had 15 points and 14 rebounds.
That was a tough one, a really tough one, because the guys played their butts off, said Gansey, who blamed himself for not saving a timeout for the waning seconds.
Tulsa (19-22) was led by Lewis’ 22 points and 18 rebounds. Buycks had 21 points.
We’ve just got to continue to work hard and defend to the best of our abilities, Lazare said. We’ve got to limit (opponents) to one shot and try to make them miss shots. We did some good things today. We just have to keep working.
Note: The Detroit Pistons assigned rookie forward Vernon Macklin to Fort Wayne. He played in 19 games this season with the Pistons, averaging 1.4 points in 4.2 minutes per game.