The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, January 07, 2020 9:10 pm

Mad Ants test Herd in loss

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The Mad Ants are one of only four teams to defeat the Eastern Conference-leading Wisconsin Herd this season.

And the Mad Ants had the Herd on the ropes again today before losing 121-115.

It was the third loss in the last nine games for Fort Wayne (9-13). Wisconsin improved to 18-4.

An announced crowd of 1,354 was on hand at Memorial Coliseum.

The Mad Ants had snapped the Herd’s 12-game winning streak with a 125-124 victory at the Coliseum on Dec. 16.

Before the game, the NBA’s Indiana Pacers sent rookie Goga Bitadze, a first-round pick (18th overall) in the 2019 draft, and Alize Johnson to the Mad Ants.

Bitadze had 14 points and 13 rebounds. Johnson, who totaled 26 points and 19 rebounds, now has 26 double-doubles in 37 games with the Mad Ants over two seasons, including in 3 of 6 games this season.

C.J. Wilcox had 19 points for Fort Wayne.

Wisconsin was paced by Frank Mason III’s 34 points.

The Mad Ants opened the game with a 21-11 run culminating with a Wilcox 3-pointer that was followed by a Johnson dunk. However, the Herd got right back into it and took a 42-36 lead on A.J. Hess’ 3 with 6:50 remaining in the second quarter.

The Mad Ants took the lead back on Walt Lemon Jr.’s drive to make it 50-49 with 25 seconds left in the quarter.

A wild sequence trimmed Wisconsin’s lead to one at 71-70 with 3:49 left in the third quarter. It started with Wilcox falling out of bounds to save an errant pass, then Ike Nwamu falling and getting smothered before sending a no-look pass to Ben Moore, who made a layup and was fouled for a 3-point play.

On the next possession, Wilcox put Fort Wayne up 72-71 from the free-throw line.

The Mad Ants took an 87-82 lead on Tre Kelley’s 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds left in the quarter, but Wisconsin’s Jaylen Adams answered with a 3 at the buzzer.

Another Kelley 3 to open the fourth quarter put the Mad Ants up 90-85. But the Herd quickly rallied for a 91-90 lead on Cameron Reynolds’ layup with 10:01 left.

Mason’s 3-pointer with 8:26 left gave the Herd a 98-95 lead.

Fort Wayne’s Lemon got a rebound and went the length of the court for a jump shot and a 101-100 lead with 5:40 left.

Mason’s 3-pointer with 2:10 left put the Herd up 110-107 and it didn’t let go of that lead.

Notes: The Mad Ants played without Naz Mitrou-Long (ankle), Brian Bowen II (herniated disc) and D.J. McCall (concussion). … There was a moment of silence for former NBA commissioner David Stern, who died Jan. 1.


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