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The Journal Gazette

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette The Mad Ants' Alex Poythress puts up a shot during Saturday's game. Poythress scored 21 points in his return from the Indiana Pacers.

Sunday, December 03, 2017 1:00 am

Westchester 107 Mad Ants 94

Chemistry missing in Mad Ants' home loss

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The level of talent may have been at its highest point of the season, but the Mad Ants' chemistry certainly was not Saturday.

The resulting 107-94 loss to the Westchester Knicks spoiled the returns of Alex Poythress and Ike Anigbogu from the NBA's Indiana Pacers, and Trey McKinney Jones from the injured list, and also strangled Fort Wayne's attempt at winning what would have been a franchise-record ninth straight regular-season game.

“I didn't think we were playing team basketball today. Two S's come to my mind – selfish and sulking – and that's what we were doing. We weren't playing for each other,” coach Steve Gansey said, after Fort Wayne lost at home for the first time this season.

The Mad Ants (8-2) trailed almost the entire game, as Westchester (8-4) got 24 points from Nigel Hayes, 22 points from Isaiah Hicks, 50.6 percent shooting and several highlight-reel plays in front of an announced crowd of 2,792 at Memorial Coliseum.

Next up, the Mad Ants play host to the Reno Bighorns and Snider graduate Reggie Hearn at 7 p.m. Monday.

“We weren't talking tonight. We weren't picking each other up. We weren't playing Mad Ants basketball,” Gansey said. “Additions (to the lineup), we've got to figure it out and keep playing for each other and keep sharing that ball. I thought we were very stagnant. They punked us a little bit. They were talking trash and we kind of laid down to them.”

Walt Lemon Jr., who came in second in the G League with 26.6 points per game, was held to nine points on 3-of-12 shooting as Fort Wayne's home record fell to 6-1.

Poythress had 21 points, on 9-of-18 shooting, in his first G League game since last season, when as a rookie he averaged 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds.

“It felt good to finally get some playing time and finally get some run,” said Poythress, who had played only 19 minutes with the Pacers. “I felt like I was a little rusty. I felt like, overall, it was pretty good for me. We didn't get the end result that we wanted. We played a little sluggish, but we've got to just build on it for Monday.”

DeQuan Jones had 19 points for the Mad Ants, and Jarrod Uthoff added 10 points and 14 rebounds. Anigbogu, a rookie out of UCLA, played his third game of the season for Fort Wayne and scored eight points on 3-of-9 shooting with 10 rebounds and a team-best three shot blocks.

McKinney Jones, who injured his shoulder during NBA Summer League, had four points and two assists in his return. Rookie Ben Moore, who was coming off a career-best 28 points in 41 minutes at Wisconsin, got six points on 2-of-3 shooting in 20:41.

“We've been practicing together and trying to build chemistry, but this was the first game and it's tough,” Poythress said. “We'll build on it. We'll go into practice tomorrow and watch film, try to get a feel for each other some more. And hopefully we'll have a better showing here on Monday.”

jcohn@jg.net