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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette The Mad Ants retired Ron "Mr. Mad Ant" Howard's number 19 Friday night.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Travis Leslie fights his way around the defense of Westchester's Jaylen Bond in the first quarter of Friday night's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Tyler Hansbrough, of the Mad Ants, fights his way around the defense of Westchester's Jaylen Bond in the first quarter of Friday night's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Holdinig daughter Nola, 2, Ron Howard, of the Mad Ants, talks about his experience with the team at the retirment of his number during halftime Friday night.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Ron Howard, of the Mad Ants, holds a framed jersey with his wife and daughters as the team retired his number Friday night.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Jordan Loyd, of the Mad Ants, looks for a way around the defense of Westchester's Keith Wright in the first quarter of Friday night's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Jordan Loyd brings the ball around the top of the court wiith Westchester's Kevin Capers trying to keep up with him in the second quarter of Friday night's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Trey McKinney Jones drives around Westchester's Kevin Capers in the second quarter of Friday night's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

Friday, March 03, 2017 6:55 pm

Mad Ants make it 3 in row on Howard's night

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

As expected, the presence of Tyler Hansbrough made the Mad Ants’ inside game grittier and more successful. There was even a fourth-quarter incident in which the Westchester Knicks’ Courtney Fells shoved Hansbrough after they had gotten tangled up and fallen to the court, leading to technical fouls on both.

But it was Jordan Loyd and Jarrod Uthoff who most stood out – again – as the Mad Ants defeated the Knicks 106-94 at Memorial Coliseum. Loyd totaled 17 points and nine assists with only two turnovers, running the point effectively for the Mad Ants (22-15), who have won three in a row on the heels of their season-worst five-game losing streak.

Uthoff had 23 points and 20 rebounds. Hansbrough had eight points and seven rebounds in 17:16 off the bench, as the Mad Ants out-rebounded the Knicks 60-43.

The Mad Ants retired the No. 19 of Ron Howard, who starred for the team for seven seasons, at halftime. Howard, who led the Mad Ants to the 2014 D-League championship and was Co-MVP of the league, is the first player to be bestowed the honor.

(Video of the ceremony is above.)

The Mad Ants play Saturday at Canton, Ohio.

Peter Dinwidde, the Pacers’ vice-president of basketball operations, was at the game, undoubtedly taking a good look at the Mad Ants’ newest player – Hansbrough, the former Pacers player who was signed Wednesday. Hansbrough, who has seven years of NBA experience, hadn’t played since last season with the Charlotte Hornets.

The Mad Ants were coming off a season high for points in their 136-105 victory Wednesday at Grand Rapids, Michigan, in which rookie point guard Loyd had career highs in points (30) and assists (11) in his first game atop the depth chart after Julyan Stone left Monday to play in Europe.

Loyd started off strong again, his steal and pass setting up Trey McKinney Jones for a lay-up and a 6-0 lead that would soon grow to 16-6 on a Stephan Hicks 3-pointer. The Knicks went on a 24-14 run, culminating with a Jaylen Bond put-back to tie it at 30 with 1:20 remaining in the first quarter, though Hansbrough immediately answered by driving from the 3-point line to a lay-up on the way to his seven first-half points off the bench.

The Mad Ants, who a week ago were reeling and in a season-worst five-game losing streak, recaptured the momentum and went up 60-42 on McKinney Jones’ 3-pointer with 3:58 left in the second quarter. Uthoff led the game in points (16) and rebounds (12) as the Mad Ants held a 64-51 halftime lead.

The Mad Ants scored 25 of the third quarter’s 44 points, led by six apiece from Loyd and Stephan Hicks, to take an 89-70 lead. A baseline basket, plus the foul, by Uthoff with 9 minutes left put the Mad Ants up 96-80.

The Knicks (16-22) made a run, though, and Keith Wright’s dunk with 6:11 left cut the Fort Wayne lead to 98-91.

After Uthoff drew an offensive foul on Travis Trice II, McKinney Jones’ 3 with 4:15 left made it 101-91 and then Uthoff made a jumper of his own for 12-point lead.

jcohn@jg.net