Mad Ants fall to a late Santa Cruz rally

Mad Ants Basketball

Fort Wayne Mad Ants Basketball game recap:

Fort Wayne Mad Ants fall to late Santa Cruz rally

Lake Buena Vista, Florida (February 18, 2021) – A strong second half pushed Santa Cruz past Fort Wayne on Thursday afternoon, 113-109. The Mad Ants led the entire way until the 5:40 mark of the fourth when the Warriors pulled out in front. Santa Cruz was led by a G League season high of 37 points from Jordan Poole, on assignment from the Golden State Warriors.

Fort Wayne was on pace to have their best shooting game of the season at halftime. In the end, Santa Cruz outshot the Mad Ants 44.9 percent to 40 percent. The Warriors also shot 85.7 percent from the free throw line and assisted on 25 of their baskets. Fort Wayne won the rebounding war 48-47 and committed just 15 turnovers to the Warriors’ 24.

Fort Wayne had their best start of the season, jumping out to a 7-0 lead on a Jalen Lecque triple less than two minutes into the game. With 9:24 to play in the first, Fort Wayne increased their lead to 11-3 by scoring seven points off four early Santa Cruz turnovers. The Mad Ants pushed their lead out to 14 points in the first quarter, but the Warriors fought back in the closing minutes. A Poole three in front of the Santa Cruz bench with 3:21 to play pulled the Warriors within six at 23-17. A Cassius Stanley three pointer with less than two seconds to go for Fort Wayne extended their lead to 33-25 at the end of the first quarter.

Fort Wayne fought against Santa Cruz and went back up by 13 on a Daxter Miles Jr. basket through heavy contact with 5:31 left in the second quarter. Jeremy Lin knocked down his first three pointer moments later to stop the Fort Wayne run but Devin Robinson answered with a three of his own with 4:41 left in the quarter for the Mad Ants. A Poole triple in the closing minute got it down to eight and a Lin reverse layup with 44 seconds left cut the Mad Ants lead down to just six. Fort Wayne would lead 57-49 at the half.

Santa Cruz never led in the first half while Fort Wayne shot 47.6 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from three-point range.

At the 8:32 mark of the third quarter, Oshae Brissett ripped down a tough rebound, then took the ball coast to coast to finish through contact to give Fort Wayne a 69-56 lead. With 7:57 left, it was Robinson’s turn to power though contact at the rim as Fort Wayne increased their lead to 71-53, giving them their biggest lead of the season, at that point, at 18 points. Santa Cruz pushed the pace in the closing minutes of the quarter. A Poole three with 2:12 to play in the third cut Fort Wayne’s lead to 11 at 81-70 after it had ballooned over 20. Lin converted on an and-one opportunity with 1:48 to play in the third to make it an 81-73 ballgame.

Fort Wayne led 85-80 after three.

A Brissett three just before the eight minute mark of the fourth stifled a Santa Cruz push that got the Fort Wayne lead down to just one point. With 6:16 to play, Poole curled his way around a defender to tie the game at 92, the first time the game had been notched even since 0-0. With 5:40 to play, Isaiah Reese gave Santa Cruz their first lead of the game, 94-92, at the free throw line. With two minutes remaining, Josh Gray drove the lane and floated a layup above taller defenders to tie the game at 102 before Lin answered back with a pullup three on the other end to give the Warriors the lead again. Santa Cruz held on to close out the win.

Brissett posted his third straight double double with 20 points and 12 rebounds for Fort Wayne while Lecque led all Mad Ant scorers with 21. In his first G League game action in nearly two years, Amida Brimah posted a 12 point, 10 rebound double double for Fort Wayne. He also registered career blocks 270 and 271, which puts him alone at 8th all-time in G League blocks.

Behind Poole, Jeremy Lin scored 27 points and had seven assists for the Warriors. Kaleb Wesson posted a 10 point, 15 rebounds double double with six assists of his own.

Fort Wayne returns to action on Saturday against the Iowa Wolves in the first half of a back-to-back. That game tips off at 11 a.m. and will air on NBA TV and Twitch, as well as locally within 50 miles of Fort Wayne on Facebook and MyTv 21.3.

Santa Cruz also returns on Saturday for a 4:30 PST tip off against Salt Lake City.

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