The Mad Ants’ winning streak, which had reached five games, has come to an end.
Brian Bowen II had 24 points and nine rebounds, but the Mad Ants lost 106-95 to the Grand Rapids Drive, in front of an announced crowd of 2,881 at Memorial Coliseum tonight.
The Mad Ants cut a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to four points, but they couldn’t sustain the rally quite long enough.
Walt Lemon Jr. had 22 points for Fort Wayne (8-11).
Grand Rapids (11-9) was paced by Craig Sword’s 25 points. Adam Woodbury, a former Fort Wayne player, added 19 points and 12 rebounds.
The Mad Ants wore special uniforms for Hoops & Hounds Night at the Coliseum. Fans could bring their dogs and the pets’ tickets benefited the Allen County SPCA, as did an auction of the jerseys.
The Mad Ants got off to a strong start, taking a 30-21 lead with 1:16 remaining in the first quarter after Lemon’s passing set up back-to-back baskets from the lane by JaKeenan Gant and Ben Moore, both of whom were fouled.
But the lead didn’t last long; Grand Rapids’ Sword drained a jump shot for a 36-35 lead with 7:41 left in the second quarter.
Sword’s 3-pointer with 27 seconds left in the quarter put the Drive up 53-45. And a 3 by teammate Devon Baulkman made it 58-47 with 9:48 left in the third quarter.
The Mad Ants’ C.J. Wilcox executed a give-and-go with Lemon in the corner that resulted in a Wilcox 3-pointer. And that was followed by Travin Thibodeaux’s steal to set up Bowen and the Mad Ants’ deficit was four at 58-54.
But the Drive answered again; Todd Withers’ thunderous dunk with 3:47 left in the quarter made it 77-60.
The Mad Ants began chipping away at that lead with a bevy of steals and Thibodeaux’s baseline drive cut the Drive lead to 94-84 with 5:55 left in the fourth quarter. An alley-oop from Lemon to Bowen made it 94-87 with 5:10 left and Lemon followed with a 3-pointer.
Naz Mitrou-Long remained out of the Mad Ants’ lineup with an ankle injury.
The Mad Ants next play the Capital City Go-Go on Friday at Washington, D.C., and then face the Canton Charge on Jan. 4 at Canton, Ohio.