The Journal Gazette
Monday, November 18, 2019 9:20 pm

Mad Ants off to franchise-worst 0-4 start

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The Mad Ants shot better than they had in their first three games of the season, converting 47.4% of their shots.

It didn’t matter.

They lost 119-101 tonight to the College Park Skyhawks in front of 888 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

The Mad Ants’ 0-4 start is the worst in their 13-year history. They had started 0-3 in 2014-15, but went on to reach the playoff finals.

Fort Wayne’s previous season best in shooting percentage was 44% in Friday’s 103-100 road loss to the Maine Red Claws.

Ike Nwamu led Fort Wayne with 20 points, six rebounds and six assists.

Fort Wayne was without three key players and down to only nine. Naz Mitrou-Long and Brian Bowen II were with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and Travin Thibodeaux had a knee injury.

JaKeenan Gant had 19 points and nine rebounds. Walt Lemon Jr. added 18 points, five assists and four rebounds.

The Mad Ants play the Windy City Bulls 8 p.m. Wednesday at Hoffman Estates, Illinois, and the Grand Rapids Drive 7 p.m. Friday at Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Leading College Park (2-2) was Cat Barber with 27 points and 10 rebounds.

D.J. McCall, who played at Concordia High School and IUPUI, made his professional debut for the Mad Ants and he had three points and three rebounds. McCall is the first native of Fort Wayne to play for the Mad Ants.

Stephan Hicks, who came into the night as the Fort Wayne’s franchise leader with 996 rebounds, became the 40th player in G League history to surpass 1,000. He also became the 22nd player in league history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

Hicks finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Mad Ants opened the game with a 6-0 run, culminating with Lemon stiff-arming his way past Brandon Goodwin for a reverse layup. But the Skyhawks quickly recovered and took an 11-8 lead on Mark Ogden Jr.’s 3-pointer.

The rest of the half was marked by back-and-forth play.

Nwamu’s 3-pointer with 2:51 left put Fort Wayne up 45-43, but it was immediately answered by a Tahjere McCall 3 for the Skyhawks.

College Park’s Kenny Gabriel made another 3 for a 53-45 lead, but that was followed by a 3 from Fort Wayne’s Gant to finish the half.

Fort Wayne shot 51.4% in the half, College Park shot 41.2%.

A Barber layup with 10:17 left in the third quarter put the Skyhawks up 60-48. And a Goodwin 3-pointer made it 71-53.

Another 3-pointer, from Gabriel, increased the lead to 77-55 with 5:50 left in the third quarter.

Nwamu’s 3-pointer at the end of the quarter, after Lemon drove to the baseline and kicked a pass out, cut College Park’s lead to 88-70.

Note: Former Indiana University star Calbert Cheaney, who is the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer, is an assistant coach with College Park.

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