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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Joe Young, of the Mad Ants, drives the ball in closer to the basket in the second quarter of Saturday's game against Iowa at the Coliseum.

Saturday, December 12, 2015 7:25 pm

Young shines but Mad Ants lose in OT

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

Joe Young’s debut with the Mad Ants was a good one. Shayne Whittington was also terrific.

But the result was a 110-103 overtime loss to the Iowa Energy, giving Fort Wayne back-to-back losses for only the second time this season.

Young, playing for the first time in the D-League, had 27 points in a game that saw the Mad Ants (7-5) squander a 15-point first-quarter lead. 

Whittington, who is in his second season out of Western Michigan, had 21 points and 10 rebounds, bettering the career-best 17 points and 15 rebounds he had in Wednesday’s 128-124 triple-overtime loss at Delaware.

Iowa (7-3) was paced by Joel Wright's 28 points and improved to 2-0 against the Mad Ants this season.

The Energy scored the first eight points in overtime — all from the free-throw line.

For the duration of the season so far, the Mad Ants have had Whittington and Rakeem Christmas on assignment from the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, who on Friday night sent down Young, too. 

Young is expected to remain through the weekend; the Mad Ants play Sunday at Grand Rapids, Michigan

Pacers president Larry Bird was among the 3,928 that attended the game tonight.

Young, a rookie guard, has appeared in seven games with the Pacers and averaged 1.3 points and 5.9 minutes per game. He played last season at Oregon, where he was the Pac-12 Player of the Year with 19.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, before being selected in the second round of the NBA draft.

Whittington got off a scorching start with 10 points as the Mad Ants build an 18-11 lead. It included a monstrous rebound of a Christmas miss for a put-back basket, a spinning lay-up along the baseline and a fall-away jumper from the top of the key.

Back-to-back baskets by Walter Lemon Jr. on drives through the lane gave the Mad Ants a 30-15 lead with 55 seconds remaining in the first quarter, and he made it 35-20 with a spinning drive for a scoop with 2 seconds left.

But the lead was quickly erased in the second quarter by a 23-4 Iowa run that culminated with a James Ennis lay-up with 6:50 remaining that put the Energy up 43-39. In the midst of it, there was an 8-minute stoppage to clean blood off the court because Lemon had injured his chin, though he returned later in the game.

A Wright lay-up at the second-quarter buzzer, after a pass by Andrew Harrison traveled nearly the length of the court, gave the Energy a 60-54 lead.

But the Mad Ants emerged from the locker room reinvigorated and took a 78-71 lead on a 3-pointer from Terran Petteway, just after Fort Wayne forced Iowa into a shot-clock violation, though Wright’s lay-up gave Iowa an 80-78 lead seconds into the fourth quarter.

The Mad Ants took a 91-90 lead on C.J. Fair’s arcing shot from the left side of the lane with 4:50 left, but the Energy answered with consecutive dunks by Wright and Maxie Esho.

The Mad Ants forced Iowa into a shot-clock violation – for the second time in the game – and it set up a Marcus Simmons free throw to tie it at 100 with 38 seconds left. Simmons’ smothering defense then prevented Ennis’ 3-pointer at the buzzer from going into the basket.

In overtime, the Energy took the lead on a pair of Harrison free throws and, after Christmas missed a hook shot, Wright went end-to-end and drew a foul to make two free throws for a 104-100 lead with 35 seconds left.

Notes: Former Mad Ants player Darnell Lazare, who was an all-star in 2012, is an assistant coach with the Energy underneath head coach Bob Donewald Jr. … It was Star Wars Night for the Mad Ants, one night after the Komets hockey team held theirs at the Coliseum. 

jcohn@jg.net