Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Mad Ants’ Stephan Hicks, right, and Iowa’s Marquise Moore fight for the ball Sunday at the Coliseum.
Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Mad Ants' Ike Anigbogu dunks during the second quarter Sunday against the Iowa Wolves at the Coliseum.
Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Mad Ants' Ike Anigbogu, left, tries to get around Iowa's Elijah Millsap during the second quarter Sunday against the Iowa Wolves at the Coliseum.
Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Mad Ants' Tra-Deon Hollins, left, tries to find an opening around Iowa's Anthony Brown during the second quarter Sunday against the Iowa Wolves at the Coliseum.
Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Mad Ants' Tra-Deon Hollins looks to make a play during the second quarter Sunday against the Iowa Wolves at the Coliseum.
Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Mad Ants' Stephan Hicks goes in for a layup during the second quarter Sunday against the Iowa Wolves at the Coliseum.
Monday, February 26, 2018 1:00 am
Mad Ants 103 Iowa 89
Jones nets 40 to lead Ants
JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette
There’s no shortage of superlatives to describe the Mad Ants and their 103-89 victory Sunday over the Iowa Wolves at Memorial Coliseum, where a sellout crowd of 4,898 saw Central Division-leading Fort Wayne win a fourth straight game, and notch its eighth victory in the last 10 games.
And to think, since they lost their leading scorer, Walt Lemon Jr., to the New Orleans Pelicans and their captain, Trey McKinney Jones, to the Indiana Pacers last week, they haven’t missed a beat and gone 3-0.
DeQuan Jones became the second Fort Wayne player since 2013 to score 40 points – Lemon was the other. He made 14 of 22 shots, including 7 of 12 from 3-point range, and added seven rebounds and three assists. He’s led Fort Wayne (24-15) in scoring seven of the last 11 games.
“I’ve played in France, I’ve played in Japan and I’ve played in Italy, and I’m kind of used to being the focal point of the offense,” said Jones, who won the G League’s Slam Dunk Contest in Los Angeles on Feb. 18. “But this is a pleasure. It’s just fun playing with a great group of guys who take pride in the game and playing the right way.”
Jones had the most impressive sequence of the game during his 15-point first quarter when he blocked an Elijah Millsap shot and sprinted down the court in time to leap for an arcing rebound of a missed Jarrod Uthoff 3-pointer, then slammed it down to tie it at 26.
“(Jones) was in the NBA for a (season with Orlando) and he’s got the (6-foot-8) size,” Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said. “He’s really understanding, as a veteran, his spots and when to succeed at them. He knows when to be aggressive and when not to. His ability to get to the basket and finish, and then obviously step out and shoot the ball, too, is pretty dangerous.”
But Jones certainly wasn’t the only Mad Ant to have a remarkable game. Rookie center Ike Anigbogu, re-assigned Saturday by the Pacers to the Mad Ants, who expect to have him the remainder of the season, put up a career-best 19 points, on 7-of-10 shooting, with seven rebounds.
“Honestly, I felt like I was doing what I have been doing, setting screens and rolling hard,” said Anigbogu, who been on board for nine Mad Ants victories and six losses. “The guys were passing the ball in and I was just finishing the opportunities that they were giving me.”
Rookie Tra-Deon Hollins, who ascended to the starting point guard role after Lemon departed, has averaged 10.8 assists over the last four games. But he emerged from Sunday with one of the wildest statistical lines anyone could remember: zero points, 14 assists, 10 steals and 5 turnovers over 42:38.
“That double-double is a testament to how good a player he is,” Jones said. “The thing about T-D that’s great is you enjoy playing with him because he takes so much pride in those little things, like getting steals and getting guys involved and getting assists. It was a pleasure to watch that.”
Stephan Hicks added 14 points for the Mad Ants, who play at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ben Moore added 13. Iowa (18-20), which has lost four in a row, was paced by Amile Jefferson’s 16 points and 10 rebounds.