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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
The Mad Ants’ Miles Plumlee goes up for a shot against Santa Cruz’s Taylor Griffin on Thursday.
Mad Ants 102, Santa Cruz 86

Mad Ants stay hot, get 3rd win in a row

“We won a game yesterday. We win one today, that’s two in a row. We win one tomorrow, that’s called a winning streak.”

– “Major League”

The Mad Ants, a franchise in its sixth year that still hasn’t had a winning season, won their third consecutive game Thursday with a 102-86 blistering over Santa Cruz, which came into Memorial Coliseum on a five-game streak and the NBA D-League’s best record.

The visiting Warriors (9-3) rolled up 58 points in taking the first-half lead but were limited to 28 points in the second half.

“We were pretty disappointed at halftime, but our guys really responded,” first-year coach Duane Ticknor said. “We didn’t make a whole lot of adjustments. We just talked about effort level, and they came out and really responded.

“We’ll see Saturday night now because this team (Santa Cruz), I’m sure they’ll bring the energy level Saturday night, and I know they haven’t lost two in a row all year. It’ll be a good challenge for us.”

The rematch is 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The three consecutive wins are the most for the Ants (6-10) since Dec. 17-26, 2010, when they won four in a row.

Entering the final quarter behind 72-71, the Ants opened up the period with a 10-2 run on back-to-back buckets by Orlando Johnson and Brandon Wallace, a shot clock-beating jumper by Tony Mitchell, Johnson’s kiss off the glass and two free throws from Wallace.

For the first three quarters, the lanky, 6-foot-8 Wallace sat the bench.

“At the end of the third he told me to get ready to go in,” Wallace said of Ticknor’s directive. “As a professional, you’ve got to be ready to play at all times.”

In 12 minutes – all in the fourth quarter – Wallace had six points to go along with a block, a steal and an assist but dominated the boards with 12 rebounds.

“I was just out there trying to get them all,” Wallace said. “Trying to contribute; just trying to get the win.”

Tony Mitchell had 22 points and 16 rebounds, while Ron Howard and Orlando Johnson each scored 25 points.

“Anytime you get a chance to play against the best team in the league, which they are right now – Santa Cruz has the best record – it’s a chance to measure how far along we’ve come,” Wallace said. “We made some trades; we lost some key guys; but this new group right here, we’re playing hard. We’re playing together, and we’re going out and laying it on the court.”