The defense was on point tonight for the Mad Ants, keeping the Windy City Bulls without many points.
Alize Johnson led the Fort Wayne offense in a 98-77 victory over the Bulls, as the Mad Ants’ defense allowed fewer points than it had in any previous game this season.
The previous low was also against the Bulls in a 105-100 victory at Hoffman Estates, Illinois, Nov. 25.
Fort Wayne improved to 5-4. Windy City fell to 5-9.
Johnson had 17 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season. Omari Johnson had 19 points.
The Mad Ants’ defensive record is 75 against the Canton Charge in 2012-13 and it looked like they may challenge that until the fourth quarter.
It was Pacers Night at Memorial Coliseum – mascot Boomer was on hand with the Pacemates dance team – and the Mad Ants didn’t disappoint donning the colors of their parent club in front of a crowd of 2,232.
One game after their worst defensive performance of the season so far – a 136-116 loss Thursday to Raptors 905 at the Coliseum – the Mad Ants were about as stingy as could be in defeating the Bulls for the second time in less than a week.
The Mad Ants were without starting guard Tra-Deon Hollins – he suffered a knee injury Thursday – and that meant the first start of Je’lon Hornbeak’s two-season professional career. Hornbeak had six points and eight assists in 36:15.
With the Hollins injury, Edmond Sumner and Ike Anigbogu remaining with the parent Indiana Pacers, and Ben Moore being signed away by the San Antonio Spurs, the Mad Ants have used six different starting lineups in nine games.
The Mad Ants took advantage of superior shooting early, going up 15-5 on Rob Gray’s baseline drive. By the end of the first quarter, the lead was 23-15 and they had shot 44.4 percent from the field compared to Windy City’s 27.3-percent shooting.
An Alize Johnson put-back followed by a pair of Davon Reed 3-pointers, with a Windy City timeout wedged between them, put Fort Wayne up 43-27. Reed made 4 of 5 at that point.
Hornbeak’s 3-pointer with 5 minutes left in the third quarter gave Fort Wayne a 54-35 lead and Elijah Stewart’s put-back slam of a missed Stephan Hicks made it 72-42 with 2:57 left in the third quarter.
The Bulls chipped away at that substantial lead, though, and a Rawle Alkins 3-pointer with 6:03 left in the fourth quarter cut it to 80-70.
Tre’Darius McCallum led Windy City wit 26 points.
Reed had 17 for Fort Wayne. So did Demetrius Denzel-Dyson.
Notes: The game was attended by former NBA player Rod Strickland, new program manager for the G League’s professional path program, which will be for players coming straight out of high school. … Former New Haven and Notre Dame player V.J. Beachem didn’t make the trip for Windy City, which did have former Mad Ants player C.J. Fair.