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  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Jordan Loyd jumps up to shoot the ball as Red Claws players try to block his shot during the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Maine Red Claws basketball game at the Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Tyler Hansbrough, left, tries to block a shot from Maine's Guerschon Yabusele during the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Maine Red Claws basketball game at the Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Maine's Demetrius Jackson, left, tries to pass the ball to a teammate while being blocked by Mad Ants' Trey McKinney-Jones during the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Maine Red Claws basketball game at the Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Trey McKinney-Jones dunks the ball during the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Maine Red Claws basketball game at the Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Georges Niang runs the ball down the court during the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Maine Red Claws basketball game at the Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Maine's Abdel Nader, left, tries to push the ball away from Mad Ants' Jordan Loyd during the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Maine Red Claws basketball game at the Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Georges Niang shoots the ball during the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Maine Red Claws basketball game at the Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Tyler Hansbrough, right, and Maine's Abdel Nader fight to get the ball during the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Maine Red Claws basketball game at the Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Georges Niang, left, tries to block Maine's Jalen Jones from getting to the hoop during the Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Maine Red Claws basketball game at the Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday. GALLERY

Tuesday, April 04, 2017 9:40 pm

Mad Ants fall in playoff opener

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

If the Mad Ants' 10th anniversary season is to continue, it will take back-to-back victories on the road.

Despite 29 points and 20 rebounds from Tyler Hansbrough, the Mad Ants lost 110-106 to the Maine Red Claws tonight at Memorial Coliseum in the opening game of the best-of-3 first-round playoff series.

Trey McKinney Jones had 19 points, Travis Leslie had 17 and Georges Niang added 13 for Fort Wayne.

Maine was paced by 30 points from Demetrious Jackson.

The Mad Ants had a nine-point lead in the third quarter but, as has been a problem all season, they couldn't go for the jugular.

A crowd of 2,833, including Indiana Pacers vice-president of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie and Mayor Tom Henry, saw the third-seeded Mad Ants fall to the Atlantic Division champions, the second seeds in the conference, in a series that will continue Monday in Portland, Maine.

A Game 3, if necessary, will be April 12.

The winner of this series will face either top-seeded Raptors 905 or the Canton Charge, who open their series Wednesday in Ohio.

Both Fort Wayne and Maine have plenty of NBA-caliber talent. Fort Wayne's Niang is a rookie on a contract with the Indiana Pacers, while Ben Bentil spent time this season with the Dallas Mavericks, Hansbrough has seven years of NBA experience and Marquis Teague and Leslie have also played in the big league.

Maine has two players on assignment from the NBA's Boston Celtics – Jordan Mickey (26 points) and Jackson, the rookie out of Notre Dame – and Abdel Nader may be selected D-League MVP after averaging 21.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1 steal in 40 regular-season games.

Both teams also lost big components lately, with the Philadephia 76ers signing Fort Wayne's Alex Poythress on Saturday and the Orlando Magic snatching Marcus Georges-Hunt from the Red Claws on Monday.

The Mad Ants missed 11 of their first 14 shots before a Niang jump shot, a McKinney Jones dunk and a Stephan Hicks dunk, in succession, put Fort Wayne up 14-13 with 4:55 left in the first quarter.

A Marquis Teague 3-pointer and a McKinney Jones lay-up, at the end of a 2-on-1 fast-break, put Fort Wayne up 29-22 with 11 minutes left in the second quarter. After the Red Claws chipped away at the lead, the Mad Ants went on a 6-0 run with Hicks forcing his way down the baseline to a dunk, McKinney Jones tipping in a Hicks miss and McKinney Jones going end-to-end for a dunk and a 49-44 lead with 1:23 left in the second quarter.

After leading 49-48 at halftime, the Mad Ants made 13 of 23 shots in the third quarter, led by Hansbrough's nine points (4 of 4 shooting) and five rebounds, to take a 79-72 lead.

Hansbrough's shot, while falling toward the baseline, gave Fort Wayne an 88-81 lead with 8:17 left in the fourth quarter. But the Red Claws battled back again, tying it at 90 with 5:15 left when Jackson finished a spin through the lane with a basket.

Hansbrough got the put-back of a missed Jordan Loyd 3-pointer, plus a foul, and Niang followed with a drive through the lane for a 98-93 lead with 4:34 left.

Maine's Arthur Edwards made a free throw with 26 seconds left to tie it 99, after which Niang had a shot blocked and then missed another with 4 seconds left.

Mickey's jumper from the baseline gave Maine a 103-101 lead with 1:33 left and two Jackson free throws made it 105-101 with 1:07 remaining. A reverse lay-up by Jackson with 36 seconds let made it 107-102.

Hansbrough's put-back with 13 seconds left cut Maine's lead to 108-106. Nader's free throw with 8 seconds left put the Red Claws up 109-106.

jcohn@jg.net