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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Wisconsin's James Blackmon Jr., a Fort Wayne native and former Indiana Hoosier, guards Mad Ants guard Edmond Sumner on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette In his first game since ankle surgery, Mad Ants guard Glenn Robinson III had 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting in Thursday afternoon’s loss to the Herd at Memorial Coliseum.

Friday, February 02, 2018 12:30 am

Wisconsin 108 Mad Ants 99

Blackmon Jr. helps halt Ants' win streak

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The Mad Ants welcomed some new faces both in the stands and on the court Thursday but couldn't come away with a win.

Glenn Robinson III, the 2017 NBA slam dunk champion with the Pacers, scored 12 points in his first game of the season, but Joel Bolomboy had 24 and Fort Wayne native and former Indiana Hoosier James Blackmon Jr. had 15 points as Wisconsin came from behind to win 108-99 at the Coliseum, snapping the Mad Ants' three-game winning streak.

Robinson, who missed the first three months of the season while recovering from left ankle surgery, said after the game he had no problems playing on the ankle and that he was “85-90 percent” of the way back to full explosiveness.

“It felt great to get a couple runs in and really just come down here and not look at the score, not doing anything outside of my game, but just get reps in, get my rhythm and just feel the game again,” he said.

Later, the Pacers announced they have recalled Robinson and he will join the team for the Pacers' road game at Charlotte today.

Robinson struggled early with his jump shot, shooting just 1 for 6 in the first quarter and finishing 5 of 14. He admitted that some shots came up short because of tired legs. His first basket of the season was a driving layup on which he jumped off the surgically repaired ankle and scored on a foul.

“You can tell he was a little rusty,” Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said. “But he's a smart player, and he has to get out there and just play game minutes. He's got to get those restorative muscles back in play.”

Robinson, who averaged 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds with the Pacers last season, seemed mostly grateful to finally be playing again after a long recovery process.

“Just to be out there (felt good). Like I said, I was in a bed, I couldn't move (after the surgery),” the 24-year-old guard said. “(I was) having to have my girlfriend go get me food and get everything, trying to make one trip.”

With Robinson in the lineup, the Mad Ants built a 14-point halftime lead while holding the Herd, which came in with a five-game losing streak, to just 39 percent shooting. That advantage melted away in the second half, however, and Wisconsin took the lead for the first time with 4:20 remaining.

Turnovers down the stretch thwarted a Fort Wayne comeback effort.

“I thought we let up in that second quarter (when Wisconsin cut a 16-point lead to three),” Gansey said. “Then toward the end of the game in the fourth (quarter), we didn't have the defensive presence that we usually have.”

In his second game with Wisconsin after being traded from the Delaware 87ers, with whom he visited the Mad Ants earlier this season, Blackmon shot 6-of-12 from the field and played a key role in the rally.

“It's really nice (to come back to Fort Wayne),” Blackmon said. “I got a chance to spend some time with the family and play in front of people who support me, so it's always great.”

The rookie shooting guard said his parents and his grandparents, along with a group of friends, were in the stands for the game. As adults, they were all in the minority. The game began at 11 a.m. as part of School Out Day, a promotion that brought large groups of children to the game on field trips. The majority of the nearly 5,000 fans in attendance were kids getting a break from school.

dsinn@jg.net