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  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Tamika Catchings speaks during the Hoops & Heels event before the start of the Mad Ants vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers basketball game at Memorial Coliseum on Friday. GALLERY  

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Julyan Stone, right, tries to get the ball around Rio Grand Valley's Chinanu Onuaku during the Mad Ants vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers basketball game at Memorial Coliseum on Friday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Travis Leslie dunks the ball the Mad Ants vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers basketball game at Memorial Coliseum on Friday. GALLERY  

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Tamika Catchings does the player address before the start of the Mad Ants vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers basketball game at Memorial Coliseum on Friday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Tamika Catchings speaks during the Hoops & Heels event before the start of the Mad Ants vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers basketball game at Memorial Coliseum on Friday. GALLERY  

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Stephan Hicks, left, and Rio Grand Valley's Gary Payton II fight for the ball at the hoop during the Mad Ants vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers basketball game at Memorial Coliseum on Friday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Tamika Catchings, right, speaks with Vance Catlin during the Hoops & Heels event before the start of the Mad Ants vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers basketball game at Memorial Coliseum on Friday. GALLERY  

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Tamika Catchings, right, takes a photo with fan Angel Suttle during the Hoops & Heels event before the start of the Mad Ants vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers basketball game at Memorial Coliseum on Friday. GALLERY  

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Tamika Catchings greets her guests during the Hoops & Heels event before the start of the Mad Ants vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers basketball game at Memorial Coliseum on Friday. GALLERY  

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Tamika Catchings speaks during the Hoops & Heels event before the start of the Mad Ants vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers basketball game at Memorial Coliseum on Friday. GALLERY  

Friday, February 24, 2017 7:15 pm

Mad Ants lose Poythress, game

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

Even the good news with the Mad Ants these days is tempered by some bad.

Rookie Alex Poythress, who returned from a finger injury he suffered at an All-Star Game practice last week, suffered a gruesome looking nose injury in the third quarter of the Mad Ants’ 125-115 loss tonight to Rio Grande Valley at Memorial Coliseum.

“I really feel bad for Alex. I really feel bad. He’d hurt his finger at the All-Star Game and didn’t get to play. He diving's for a loose ball, fighting his butt off for me and I think he’s got a broken nose,” Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said. “He was bleeding all over the place. I feel bad for him. The kid is an unbelievable worker and all he wants to do is win.”

Poythress had 17 points and six rebounds off the bench, but the Mad Ants (19-15) lost a season-worst fifth straight game, despite fighting back from a 19-point deficit to get within four at 115-111 on a Stephan Hicks dunk with 1:10 left in front of 4,041 fans.

While usually the Mad Ants are the team failing to hold a lead, this time they had to play catch up all night. 

Jarrod Uthoff had 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Mad Ants (his video highlights are above). Darius Morris led Rio Grande Valley (22-14) with 28 points.

Tamika Catchings, the former Indiana Fever star and four-time Olympic gold medalist, was on hand for the game. She took part in the “Hoops & Heels” networking event before the game and met with fans during halftime.

“This is my first Mad Ant game, and I’m really excited to be here,” she said, addressing the crowd before the game. “I wanted to come out and show some love. I want to thank everybody who supports this team and our Pacers organization. Everybody cheer loud.”

Trey McKinney Jones had 20 points and six rebounds for the Mad Ants, who play Saturday at Erie, Pennsylvania.

“We can’t get behind 19 and we’ve kind of been doing that consistently and it’s been biting us in the butt,” said McKinney Jones, whose team never led. “It’s tough losing five straight. I don’t think we lost five straight in the (2014) championship run, but I know there was a stretch where we were losing it a little bit. We kind of turned it up the last 15 games and we’ve got 16 left now. We’ve got the personnel and the players to do that again, but we’ve got to find a way to turn it around and get out rhythm back.”