The Mad Ants had one of the G League's top teams on the ropes, but the Maine Red Claws rallied from 13 points down in the third quarter to beat Fort Wayne 123-119 in overtime Tuesday at Memorial Coliseum.
“We wanted that game. I wanted it really bad. The players wanted it really bad,” Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said. “But when you play tough teams ... it comes down to playing smart basketball from the beginning of the tip. I'd like to take a lot of possessions back, but that's the basketball, that's the basketball world.”
After the Atlantic Division-leading Red Claws rallied, Fort Wayne's Walt Lemon Jr., who had 27 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds, gave his team a 116-114 lead on a drive with 37 seconds remaining in the fourth. Maine's Kaiser Gates was fouled on a 3-point attempt by Ben Moore and he made 2 of 3 free throws to tie it.
In overtime, Maine took the lead for good on Tremont Waters' layup to make it 118-116. Lemon missed all five overtime shots he had, including a reverse layup with 13 second left that could have tied it at 121.
C.J. Wilcox had 24 points for Fort Wayne (17-17). Alize Johnson had 17 points and 14 rebounds. Stephan Hicks added 16 points.
“It's tough, these ones, but we battle through it,” Gansey said. “Earlier in the year, we're getting blown out by 25. Those games aren't fun. These games are fun because it puts your players in situations, and it puts me in situations, where you've got to be ready to execute. It's great we're getting this experience because it's going to be a dogfight to get into the playoffs here to finish.”
Maine (24-9) was paced by Jaysean Paige's 27 points. Waters had 22. Tacko Fall had 12 with 14 rebounds.