Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Ben Moore of the Mad Ants goes up strong against Nigel Hayes of the Westchester Knicks in the 1st quarter.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Alex Poythress of the Mad Ants drives in for a quick two points against Jordan Henriquez of the Westchester Knicks.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Ike Anigbogu of the Mad Ants and Luke Kornet of the Westchester Knicks fight for the tip off at the beginning of Saturday night’s game.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Dequan Jones of the Mad Ants breaks through the Westchester Knick’s defense for 2 points in the first quarter.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Walt Lemon Jr of the Mad Ants drives around Trey Burke of the Westchester Knicks before putting another two points up on the board during the second quarter.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Alex Poythress of the Mad Ants blocks Isaiah Hicks of the Westchester Knicks in the 2nd quarter.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Ike Anigbogu of the Mad Ants steals a rebound from Paul Watson of the Westchester Knicks during the 2nd quarter.
Saturday, December 02, 2017 9:20 pm
Mad Ants' streak ends, despite all the talent
JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette
The Mad Ants fielded, unquestionably, their most talented lineup of the season.
But it may have come at the expense of chemistry.
Despite having two NBA-contracted players down from the parent Indiana Pacers – Alex Poythress and Ike Anigbogu – and Trey McKinney Jones on the court for the first time this season, the Mad Ants’ winning streak was snapped at eight games with a 107-94 loss to the Westchester Knicks in front of an announced crowd of 2,792 at Memorial Coliseum tonight.
It was also Fort Wayne’s first loss of the season at the Coliseum, dropping its record there to 6-1 heading into Monday’s game against the Reno Bighorns and Snider-graduate Reggie Hearn.
The Mad Ants (8-2), who hadn’t lost since their season opener to the Long Island Nets, were trying to set a new record for longest winning streak in the regular season in the franchise’s 11 years, though the Mad Ants did win 12 straight, including six playoff games, en route to the 2014 championship.
Playing his first G League game of the season was Poythress, who averaged 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds last season as a rookie with the Mad Ants, parlaying that efficiency into a late-season contract with the Philadelphia 76ers and a two-way contract this year with the Pacers. Also back with the Mad Ants, for a third game of the season, was rookie center Anigbogu.
As for McKinney Jones, he hadn’t played since injuring his shoulder in NBA Summer League.
Poythress led the Mad Ants with 21 points. Anigbogu had 8 points and 10 rebounds. McKinney Jones had four points.
Also for Fort Wayne, DeQuan Jones had 19 points.
Westchester (8-4) was paced by Nigel Hayes’ 24 points and Isaiah Hicks’ 22.
It didn’t take long for Poythress to reintroduce himself to the Coliseum fans; he drained a 3-pointer on the Mad Ants’ first shot for a 3-1 lead.
But the Knicks broke out to a 20-10 lead on a Hicks layup with 5:51 remaining in the first quarter and kept answering Mad Ants runs throughout the first half, going up 53-46 with 2:52 left in the second quarter on a Hayes 3-pointer.
Hayes’ shot from just inside the 3-point line with one second left in the half put the Knicks up 61-54, even though Jones had 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting for Fort Wayne.
Though the Knicks’ lead was down to 2 after a Poythress layup and free throw, Westchester regained a 73-61 lead on a Hicks layup with 7:14 left in the third quarter and Trey Burke’s layup made it 82-67.
Even when the Mad Ants showed some life, like when a huge Anigbogu shot block set up a C.J. Fair finger-roll, the play would be answered, as Fair was with a Xavier Rathan-Mayes 3-pointer for a 88-70 Knicks lead at the end of three quarters.
Notes: Adam Woodbury, released by the Mad Ants earlier this season to make room for Skylar Spencer, is on the Westchester roster. He had two rebounds in 4:49… The Mad Ants’ eight-game winning streak was their third, having previously done so in 2012-13 and 2014-15.