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The Journal Gazette

Monday, March 20, 2017 8:01 pm

Inconsistent Mad Ants fall

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

If there is a way to magically conjure up consistency – a spell, potion or elixir – Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey may be interested.

On the heels of the Mad Ants’ biggest victory of the season, one that gave them a firm grip on a playoff spot, they shot only 37.2 percent from the field, were outrebounded by 15 and lost 110-88 to the Austin Spurs at Memorial Coliseum on Sunday.

"Again, it breaks down to being consistent," said Gansey, whose team has occasionally looked like the best team in the D-League – the Mad Ants won 11 of their first 14 games and 22 of 37 – but has won three consecutive games only once since November.

"We’ve just got to continue to watch film and tell these guys that they need to be ready to play. (Saturday brought) a huge win for us, in terms of the playoff push here, but if we’re going to be a good playoff team then we need to continue to bring it every single night."

Orlando Johnson and Livio Jean-Charles had 17 points each for the Spurs (21-23), who shot 54.3 percent from the field.

The Mad Ants had opportunities to fight back from a 22-point deficit but missed 13 of their final 19 shots in front of 3,420 fans.

"They were more physical right from the get-go. … It was a blah game, that’s what I would consider it," said Gansey, whose Mad Ants (26-19) have five games remaining in the regular season as they try to catch Canton (28-18) for the third seed or at least hang on to the fourth and final conference playoff spot sought by Delaware (23-21), which the Mad Ants defeated 116-109 on Saturday.

Fort Wayne’s Trey ­McKinney Jones had 16 points. Tyler Hansbrough added 13, on the heels of a 31-point outing for the Mad Ants, who play host to Greensboro at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

"There are some games where we have mental lapses, where we let games slip away, and we’ve just got to stop doing that," said Alex Poythress, who had 10 points. "That’s the great thing about basketball. It’s not like football where you’ve got to wait a week to play again. In basketball, you’ve got a game and you think about it that night, then the next morning you wake up, practice and (get ready) for the game the next day. We’ll get this taste out of our mouths real quick."

Roster changes haven’t helped matters – Jarrod Uthoff was signed by the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, the parent Indiana Pacers have recalled their players, and Jul­yan Stone left to play in Europe – and the schedule has been hectic.

"I can’t even tell you the last time we’ve practiced. It’s been hour shootarounds, getting ready for the opponents," Gansey said.

In his second game back from the Mavericks, Ben Bentil delivered nine points. McKinney Jones, who made 6 of 12 shots, was the only Mad Ants player shooting at least 50 percent from the field as Pacers president Larry Bird watched a second straight game.

"That tells you how invested he is, spending the night in Fort Wayne and missing the Pacer game to come check out us," said Gansey, adding Bird wasn’t just scouting Hansbrough. "He’s watching everybody. I went out to dinner with him last night and he was asking about every single one of our guys, their work ethic and what they can do to help us win."