Dakota Mathias, the former Purdue star, cemented this game with an off-balance 3-pointer with 11 seconds left and Naz Mitrou-Long smothered all over him.
But the Mad Ants’ 108-105 loss to the Texas Legends at Memorial Coliseum was decided in the turnover department.
Fort Wayne had 21, Texas had 16.
Frankly, turnovers have been a recurring problem all season for the Mad Ants (1-8), and it was made a bit worse with Fort Wayne playing an unusual lineup because it had only one center, Hasheem Thabeet, because of injuries to JaKeenan Gant (concussion) and Travin Thibodeaux.
The Mad Ants’ penchant for turnovers just keeps adding up. Personally, I think they need to do a better job of setting up their offense instead of looking for quick 3s.
“We want to play fast, we want to play quick. But we don’t want to be in a hurry,” Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said. “We don’t want to drive into multiple defenders. We’ve got to kick it and keep moving. They executed down the stretch and we didn’t. That Boilermaker came in here and hit a tough one.”
Mathias had 23 points, one less than teammate Aric Holman, for Texas (6-3).
It’s not all doom and gloom for the Mad Ants, who got a solid game from Mitrou-Long – the first Fort Wayne triple-double of the season with 15 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds – though he had 10 turnovers.
Walt Lemon Jr. had 28 points on 12-of-22 shooting. Brian Bowen II had 21 points and 10 rebounds. And Stephan Hicks had 18 points and 14 rebounds.
The Mad Ants’ 58-43 rebounding advantage was impressive given the lack of big men they had.
“Coming out of the gate, we played really well and were aggressive, got to the glass,” Bowen said. “That was a big thing, attacking the glass and getting the boards. We played solid defense. Overall, it was an improvement for sure.”
Kudos to Fort Wayne-native D.J. McCall, a rookie, who played 14 solid minutes. He was scoreless but had five rebounds and five fouls, though he was careful not to get a foul in the waning minutes while providing valuable hustle.
“D.J. went in there and played his butt off,” Gansey said. “He had five boards. He had to go in there because we had only one big. Steph’s a big guard. D.J. is our other small 4. He went in there and played hard. I felt we got some extra possessions from him. He had three offensive rebounds and that was great. D.J. is going to continue improving and help us when his name is called.”