The Mad Ants lost the opening game of their D-League playoffs Wednesday, falling to Santa Cruz 124-118 at Memorial Coliseum.
The teams will resume their best-of-three series Saturday in Santa Cruz. If a third game is necessary, it will be played Sunday.
Santa Cruz built a 17-point lead, but the Ants rallied to take a 97-96 lead with 8:43 remaining when Ron Howard dropped two free throws. But the Warriors outscored Fort Wayne 10-2 to regain control.
Santa Cruz's 6-foot-10 center Jeremy Tyler led the Warriors with 34 points - 21 coming in the fourth quarter, when Santa Cruz insisted on throwing the ball inside. Tony Mitchell led the Ants with 40. Howard added 22.