The Mad Ants’ 13th season got underway tonight at Memorial Coliseum. The roster looks different. Even the dance team, formerly the Madame Ants, is now different – called the Mad Ants Dancerz because there’s now a male member.
But the 117-89 loss to the Lakeland Magic looked eerily similar to the way things finished out last season, when Fort Wayne missed the playoffs with a 23-27 record.
Fort Wayne (0-1) was prone to turning the ball over on offense, porous defensively and ultimately shot only 38% from the field.
Stephan Hicks led Fort Wayne with 18 points. Ike Nwamu had 15 and seven rebounds.
Lakeland (1-0), which shot 52%, was paced by B.J. Johnson's 23 points.
The Mad Ants play host to the Long Island Nets at 7 p.m. Saturday, during which fans will get T-shirts for a “gold out.”
The Magic took an early 19-8 lead after Stephen Domingo made a 3-pointer with 5:29 remaining in the first quarter, though Fort Wayne got back within five, at 26-21, on a Nwamu 3-pointer.
It didn’t last long, though, and the Magic was back to a commanding 46-32 lead with Josh Magette’s jump shot from the top of the key that bounced off the glass with 4:58 remaining in the second quarter.
By the time it was 49-37, both teams had attempted 37 shots but the Magic had converted five more of them.
At the end of the first half, when Lakeland had a 54-41 lead, the Magic had shot 51.2% and Fort Wayne 34.9%, though Stephan Hicks had 14 for the Mad Ants at that point.
The Magic, thanks to long-range shooting, continued to hold Fort Wayne at bay – Magette’s 3-pointer made it 76-57 with 3:50 left in the third quarter and the lead was 86-68 at the end of the quarter.
And Magette, with yet another 3, made it 104-74 with 6:34 left in the fourth quarter.
Hasheem Thabeet, the Mad Ants’ first-round pick in this year’s G League draft, and the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft to Memphis, didn’t play for Fort Wayne tonight. Neither did rookie D.J. McCall, the former Concordia High School and IUPUI player, who is the first native of Fort Wayne to play for the Mad Ants.