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The Journal Gazette

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette The Mad Ants' Walt Lemon Jr. scores two of his career-high 37 points Sunday against the Northern Arizona Suns. Fort Wayne won on a last-second shot.

Monday, November 27, 2017 1:00 am

Mad Ants 118 N. Arizona 116

Moore in right spot as Ants extend streak

Rookie follows miss by Lemon to secure last-second victory

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The Mad Ants didn't have their best stuff in the second half Sunday, turning the ball over 15 times and squandering a 29-point lead at Memorial Coliseum, but they once again proved their moxie.

Walt Lemon Jr. drove his way through two defenders and sent an underhand shot off the glass and the rebound landed in the hands of rookie Ben Moore, whose put-back basket was the difference in a 118-116 victory over the Northern Arizona Suns that extended Fort Wayne's winning streak to seven.

The Mad Ants (7-1) have matched the best eight-game start in their 11-year history, set last year when they went 30-20 and lost in the first round of the playoffs, and they are one victory short of equaling the longest winning streaks in team history, set in 2012-13 and 2014-15.

“A win is a win,” said Moore, who had four points and eight rebounds. “When we came in (during halftime), the coaches let us know that team was dangerous and we were expecting them to make a run, just not a run that big.”

Moore also had the winning points – a shot and ensuing free throw – in a 114-111 victory Nov. 11 over the Windy City Bulls.

“They were playing zone the majority of the second half, so we weren't attacking the gaps,” Moore said of Sunday's shot. “And on the last play, Walt attacked the gap pretty well and was aggressive. I just followed it up.”

Lemon had a career-best 37 points on 16-of-25 shooting, along with nine rebounds and six assists. 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 held Fort Wayne to 15-of-34 second-half shooting, went up 104-102 on Xavier Silas' 3-pointer 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,” Ants coach Steve Gansey said. “They ran zone on us defensively. ... 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, 27 from Askia Booker and 24 from Silas. Fort Wayne's Jarrod Uthoff had 23 points and 10 rebounds. C.J. Fair had 18 points.

Lemon, who came in ranked fifth in the G League with 25 points per game, said he wanted the ball in his hands for the final drive.

“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.”

An announced crowd of 1,726 saw the Mad Ants improve to 6-0 at the Coliseum.

Division rival Wisconsin (6-2), the only other unbeaten team at home at 2-0, plays host to the Mad Ants on Tuesday.

jcohn@jg.net