Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Walt Lemon Jr puts his first 2 points up on the board for the Mad Ants against the Northern Arizona Suns with a layup at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
Brett luke | The Journal Gazette C.J. Fair of the Mad Ants puts up a left handed layup against Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson of the Northern Arizona Suns during the 3rd quarter.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Walt Lemon Jr. leads with a left handed layup for an easy 2 points against the Northern Arizona Suns in the 1st quarter.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette DeQuan Jones of the Mad Ants drives in before passing to Stephan Hicks at the top of the key during the 3rd quarter.
Brett luke | The Journal Gazette Je'lon Hornbeak of the Mad Ants successfully comes off of a pick set by Jarrod Uthoff on Joshia Gray of the Northern Arizona Suns in the 2nd quarter.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette C.J. Fair drives in for an easy layup against the Northern Arizona Suns during the first quarter at the Allen County War Memorial Colisium.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette The Madame Ants perform during a timeout at the Mad Ants Vs the Northern Arizona Suns basketball game in the Allen County War Memorial Colisium.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Stephan Hicks of the Mad Ants drives up the middle for an easy layup against the Northern American Suns at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Stephan Hicks of the Mad Ants hits a jumpshot from outside the 3 point line against the Northern American Suns in the 2nd quarter.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Jarrod Uthoff of the Mad Ants goes up strong for 2 points against Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson of the Northern Arizona Suns.
Sunday, November 26, 2017 8:30 pm
MAD ANTS 118, NORTHERN ARIZONA 116
Moore's shot gives Mad Ants 7th straight win
JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette
The Mad Ants may have squandered a 29-point lead, but they didn’t let their chance at history escape them today.
Rookie Ben Moore’s clutch put-back of a Walt Lemon Jr. miss with a second left at Memorial Coliseum provided the deciding points in a 118-116 victory over the Northern Arizona Suns that extended Fort Wayne’s winning streak to seven games, one short of tying the franchise’s all-time record.
“They were playing zone the majority of the second half, so we weren't attacking the gaps. And on the last play, Walt attacked the gap pretty well and was aggressive. I just followed it up,” said Moore, who had his second game-winning shot of the season, though he finished with only four points and eight rebounds.
Lemon had a career-best 37 points on 16-of-25 shooting, along with nine rebounds and six assists, as he went above the 30-point echelon for the third time this season.
He was 12 of 15 for 27 points in the commanding first half, which culminated with a DeQuan Jones 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 74-47 lead.
The Suns, who are 0-2 all-time against the Mad Ants, chipped away at the lead by holding Fort Wayne to 15-of-34 shooting and causing 15 turnovers in the second half. A 3-pointer by the Suns’ Xavier Silas, who had 24 points, gave them a 104-102 lead with 4:50 left in the fourth quarter.
“(It was their) defense and us not continuing what we had been doing in the first 24 minutes,” Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said. “They ran zone on us defensively, but it came down to defense and we weren’t playing our Mad Ant defense in the second half. … We didn’t get stops and we didn’t make baskets. They’re one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the league and they were driving us, too.”
The Suns (3-5) got 30 points from Josh Gray and 27 points from Askia Booker. Jarrod Uthoff had 23 points and 10 rebounds for Fort Wayne (7-1), C.J. Fair had 18 points and Lemon, who came into the game ranked fifth in the G League with 25 points per game, put the Mad Ants in position for Moore’s winning shot by driving his way through two defenders for his shot that caromed off the glass and landed in Moore's hands.
(Video of the shot is above.)
“I’ve been in those situations plenty of times in my life and it was actually fun. No matter which way it goes, if I make it then it’s a game-winner and if I miss it, then it goes into overtime and that’s the worst-case scenario,” Lemon said. “Basketball is fun and you want to be in those types of situations.”
Silas had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but his shot fell short in front of a crowd announced at 1,726 at the Coliseum, where the Mad Ants are 6-0 this season. The only other team undefeated at home, division rival Wisconsin (6-2, 2-0 at home), plays host to the Mad Ants on Tuesday.
The Mad Ants have equaled the best eight-game start in the franchise’s 11-year history, set last season when they finished 30-20 and then lost in the first round of the playoffs. More impressively, this is only the third time in franchise history the Mad Ants have won seven straight games; they won eight in a row in 2012-13 and 2014-15.