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Intensity lacking in loss

December 14, 2018

Losing is one thing. But coach Steve Gansey didn’t care for the way his Mad Ants fell to the Westchester Knicks on Thursday night.

The final score was 131-105 in front of an announced crowd of 1,597 at Memorial Coliseum. The Knicks shot a jaw-dropping 62.1 percent from the field, compared with Fort Wayne’s 41.2 percent. And the Knicks had more rebounds (44-35), steals (9-4) and led almost the entire game.

It was ugly, to say the least, for the Mad Ants (6-7), who won only two games during their six-game homestand and haven’t won back-to-back games since they were 3-1.

“We have a very young team and being patient is big for us : for myself and the players : but one thing we have to do is continue to play for each other,” Gansey said. “I was disappointed in our energy and our effort.

“Playing hard is a skill. Some people may think, ‘Oh, that’s not a skill,’ but playing hard is a skill because not everyone does it. Everyone needs to have that demeanor every single day. You never know who is watching. I questioned our energy, our effort, our heart and our toughness today.”

Some excuses could be made. The Mad Ants thought they’d have Edmond Sumner back in the lineup : he had averaged 24.6 points, 3.8 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals in five games before being called to the Indiana Pacers in November : but a hamstring injury had him in street clothes. The Mad Ants also remained without Alize Johnson, who is expected to be back from the Pacers in time for Monday’s 7 p.m. game at the Coliseum against Rio Grande Valley.

And there were a few positives, too, including Ike Anigbogu tying a career high with 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting, though half of it came when the game was still tied at 32.

Fort Wayne’s Jared Sam also had the best outing of his rookie season with 12 points and seven rebounds, but that wasn’t nearly enough to keep the Knicks (13-5) from the lopsided victory that was paced by John Jenkins’ 26 points on 12-of-19 shooting and Trevon Bluiett’s 23 points.

“There are plenty of games,” said Fort Wayne’s Omari Johnson, who had 18 points. “Sometimes you’re going to have bad games. Sometimes you’re going to have throwaway games. Sometimes there are games like this and there’s nothing you can do about it.

“We’ve just got to bounce back in the next game. We’ve got to keep doing the things we’ve been doing to get these wins and it will all work out in the end.”

The Mad Ants play the Oklahoma City Blue at 8 p.m. Saturday in Oklahoma City.

“One of the things I do love about being on the road is that teams do come together,” Gansey said. “There’s nothing else; it’s a business trip and there are no other distractions. ... We’ve got to continue to play for each other. I’m disappointed in how we played at home here, especially with the fans coming out and supporting us, and we certainly appreciate that, but we’ve got to give a better product on the floor.”

jcohn@jg.net

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