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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Tra-Deon Hollins looks for a teammate to pass the ball to as Swarm's Cat Barber tries to block his pass during the second quarter in the MTI Center at Trine on Sunday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Ike Anigbogu and Swarm's Chinanu Onuaku fight for the ball during the first quarter in the MTI Center at Trine on Sunday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Elijah Stewart dunks the ball during the first quarter against Greensboro Swarm in the MTI Center at Trine on Sunday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Stephan Hicks jumps up to shoot the ball as Swarm's Chinanu Onuaku tries to block his shot during the second quarter in the MTI Center at Trine on Sunday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Rob Gray looks for a teammate to pass the ball away from Swarm's Jaylen Barford during the second quarter in the MTI Center at Trine on Sunday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Demetrius Denzel-Dyson tries to keep ahold of the ball as Swarm's Cat Barber, left, and Sam Thompson try to knock the ball from his grip during the second quarter in the MTI Center at Trine on Sunday.

Sunday, December 30, 2018 8:00 pm

Atmosphere good but Ants lose at Trine

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

ANGOLA – Tra-Deon Hollins is known as the Man of Steal – he led the nation as a college player at Nebraska-Omaha – but he became the Man of Block for a moment today.

And that brought the MTI Center to life, one of many such moments, but the Mad Ants still couldn’t cement the victory and lost 110-104 to the Greensboro Swarm in front of 2,651 points.

Hollins’ block of a Joe Chealey layup attempt came with 6:30 remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Mad Ants clinging to a 99-91 lead, and it seemed the Mad Ants were destined to win.

But the Swarm still managed to get a lead – Chealey’s 3-pointer made it 100-99 with 5:07 left – and Greensboro (11-9) was paced by Dwayne Bacon’s 22 points and eight rebounds.

“The fans were great. We had a game outside the Coliseum, 45 minutes away, and everybody traveled here to watch us play and that was big time,” said Alize Johnson, who had 15 points and 18 rebounds for Fort Wayne (9-10).

He has double-doubles in 12 of his 14 G League games.

The Mad Ants played at the MTI Center – the first time they’d played a regular-season home game away from Memorial Coliseum – so they could get a feel for the logistics of the Trine University building in case they need to play there in the future.

The concern, according to Mad Ants president Tim Bawmann, is that a lack of availability at Memorial Coliseum, could prevent a playoff home game there if the Mad Ants should advance to the G League finals.

“It was a great turnout, a different arena, and it was great to come out here,” said Edmond Sumner, who had 11 points for the Mad Ants.

The MTI Center is a 3,500-seat facility that’s home to Trine’s basketball, bowling and esports teams.

Before the game, the Swarm (11-9) was assigned Bacon by the parent Charlotte Hornets. Bacon had averaged 5.5 points, 1.8 rebounds and 12.3 minutes in 17 NBA games this season.

Elijah Stewart, who had come in to the day averaging 4.1 points and 11.7 minutes for the Mad Ants, got his second straight start and took advantage with 3-for-3 shooting in the first quarter. His 3-pointer followed by a layup gave Fort Wayne a 10-1 lead and his baseline dunk made it 19-9, en route to a 30-26 lead at the end of the quarter.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Fort Wayne’s Rob Gray made it 59-46 with 3:50 remaining in the second quarter, and Omari Johnson had 16 by halftime to propel the Mad Ants to a 67-57 lead.

Just as there were a few technical glitches at the MTI Center – a short-term power outage along some of press row and the referees’ displeasure with the drum line playing while Greensboro had the ball – the Swarm took an 82-81 lead late in the third quarter on a Jaylen Barford jump shot.

“I loved the atmosphere and how it was a close-knit environment,” Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said. “The fans seemed like they packed it. It was great and I really enjoyed it.”

What Gansey didn’t enjoy, though, was his team’s inability to protect the ball.

“Our goal is 12 or less turnovers per game and we had 25 turnovers (that led) to 26 points,” Gansey said.

Gray had 17 points for the Mad Ants.

jcohn@jg.net