Mad Ants power past Erie in home opener
The Mad Ants had a bevy of NBA prospects on the Memorial Coliseum court tonight and came away with a victory.
Paced by Ben Moore’s 22 points and seven rebounds, the Mad Ants beat the Erie BayHawks 116-111. Edmond Sumner also had 22 points for Fort Wayne.
The Mad Ants play again at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Coliseum against the Maine Red Claws.
The Mad Ants won a division title and had designs on their second G League championship last season before the BayHawks ousted them from the single-elimination Eastern Conference semifinals at the Coliseum last season.
This was Fort Wayne’s home opener : an announced crowd of 3,953 attended the game : after the Mad Ants’ 112-101 season-opening loss to the Sioux Falls Skyforce on Nov. 2 at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where they were led by Davon Reed’s 25 points.
The Mad Ants had a very NBA-heavy lineup that included Alize Johnson, the Indiana Pacers’ rookie second-round pick; Ike Anigbogu, a second-year player; and Sumner and Reed, who are on two-way contracts. Plus, there was Moore, cut by the Pacers last weekend and making his return to the Mad Ants after a terrific rookie season.
Johnson had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Reed had 18 points. Anigbogu had 12 points and 13 rebounds.
After a slow start : Erie took a 28-16 lead on a Jeremy Hollowell finger-roll with 3:17 left in the first quarter : the Mad Ants fought back and Reed’s 3-pointer from the corner cut the deficit to one with 7:16 left in the second quarter.
On the ensuing possession, Sumner circumvented the lane defense and dropped a layup into the basket for a 43-42 lead. And his drive from the arc gave Fort Wayne a 60-55 lead with 32 seconds left in the half, at which point he’d made 5 of 7 shots for 13 points.
The Mad Ants took control with an 8-3 run to begin the third quarter : it included a Johnson 3 from the corner and a Reed steal at mid-court and then a 3 : to take a 71-59 lead. In their 27-21 third-quarter run, which gave them a 90-77 lead, Johnson had 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
Anigbogu’s tip-in gave the Mad Ants a 108-98 lead with 2:30 remaining.
Erie’s Terrence Jones had 31 points.
Notes: Former Mad Ants forward Alex Poythress is a two-way player between the BayHawks and Atlanta Hawks but currently in the NBA. ... The Mad Ants played without Je’lon Hornbeak, Demetrius Denzel-Dyson, Jared Sam and Travin Thibodeaux. ... Fort Wayne’s Christiana Danielle, who was on “The Voice,” sang the national anthem.