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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette The Mad Ants’ Trey McKinney Jones is fouled by Raptors 905’s Yanick Moreira on a drive in the first quarter Friday night. McKinney Jones led Fort Wayne with 28 points.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette The Mad Ants’ Jordan Loyd brings the ball up the court in the first quarter of Friday’s loss to Raptors 905. Lloyd had 13 points.

Friday, January 06, 2017 10:02 pm

Fouls just 1 of many troubles in Ants' loss

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

With the Mad Ants’ biggest competition in the Central Division playing at Memorial Coliseum, coach Steve Gansey wanted his team to compete Friday like it was the playoffs.

Instead, he got a 114-100 loss to Raptors 905 that saw Fort Wayne in foul trouble the entire game, shoot 35.4 percent from the field to the opposition’s 46.8 percent, get outrebounded by 11 and have to put up a whopping 42 attempts from 3-point range just to stay in it.

"We fouled way too much because they shot 43 free throws. So, we’ve got to defend without fouling," said Gansey.

The Mad Ants (13-6), who were led by Trey McKinney Jones’ 28 points, squandered a 13-point second-quarter lead and trailed 102-83 with 5:25 remaining in front of an announced crowd of 3,144. Highlighted by strong defense – they forced two shot-clock violations – the Mad Ants were able to trim the deficit to six with 2:08 remaining.

Rookie Georges Niang, down from the NBA’s Indiana Pacers for one game, had 23 points, including 5-of-10 shooting from 3-point range, and 12 rebounds in his fourth D-League game.

"He always brings energy. I like the little things he does for our club, the shadow, full court, getting a couple of steals," Gansey said. "He played extremely hard. He hit some 3s in there. Getting used to the pace and just playing (after little NBA action) is extremely difficult."

A hamstring injury kept Travis Leslie, who is averaging 16.2 points and 7.6 rebounds, out for the first time this season. Rookie Alex Poythress, who came averaging a team-best 19.1 points, got in early foul trouble and totaled six points before fouling out with 3:06 left.

That put more of the onus on McKinney Jones, who made 11 of 12 free-throw attempts, against Axel Toupane (23 points), Fred VanVleet (20 points) and the rest of Raptors 905, which is a half-game back in the division.

Gansey was given a technical foul for arguing a call, as 31 of 52 fouls were assessed to Fort Wayne, which wore Police/Fire Department-themed jerseys that were auctioned off to benefit Fort Wayne Police Victim Assistance.

"These guys do a great job of welcoming me in and making life really easy," said Niang, who has averaged 5.1 minutes over 15 games with the Pacers. "The frustrating part is not winning. We were in a position to win, regardless of how (badly) the game was called. We still had a chance to win it and we could never get that focus off what was going on outside of the game. We needed to just focus on the game and just focus on us. That eats you up as a player because it’s something you can control."

Jordan Loyd had 13 points for the Mad Ants, 9-4 at the Coliseum. Raptors 905 improved to 13-7, 6-0 on the road.

"They had guys who knocked down big shots, like Brady Heslip and E.J. Singler, but when you don’t win there’s just something that eats away at you," Niang said.

jcohn@jg.net