Back-to-back victories may not seem like such a big deal. But the Mad Ants weren’t accustomed to this sort of drought.
Their 126-110 victory over the Rio Grande Valley Vipers tonight at Memorial Coliseum gave Fort Wayne (8-7) back-to-back victories for the first time since it was 3-1 to start the season, a beginning that was snapped with a loss to the Maine Red Claws on Nov. 16.
Stephan Hicks had 26 points for the Mad Ants, making 11 of 16 shots, on a night his team had five players score in double figures.
“That just shows we are very unselfish,” Hicks said. “We don’t really care – it doesn’t really matter for us – who is scoring, as long as everybody’s touching the ball and we’re getting open looks.”
Rookie Alize Johnson, a second-round draft pick of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, had 22 points and 14 rebounds for the eighth double-double of his 10 G League games. (His video highlights are above.)
“It was a very competitive game. Early on, we started kind of slow, but then we got going. We’re just trying to build chemistry as much as we can every day,” Johnson said.
Rob Gray had 23 points, Davon Reed 21 and Omari Johnson 14 for the Mad Ants.
Next the Mad Ants travel to Las Vegas for the G League Showcase, an event in which players compete in front of NBA scouts, and they will face the Salt Lake Stars at 8 p.m. on Thursday and the South Bay Lakers at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“We wanted to come out here and get some good momentum going into the Showcase,” Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said.
Before the game, the Mad Ants got back Alize Johnson from the Pacers. Alize Johnson had averaged 19 points, 13.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in his first nine games with the Mad Ants – before he was called to the NBA.
The Mad Ants remained without Edmond Sumner (hamstring), though Ike Anigbogu attempted to play after missing Saturday’s 113-94 victory over the Oklahoma City Blue with a finger injury. Anigbogu lasted only 2:52, missing two shots and grabbing two rebounds, before coming out of the game.
The Vipers (9-8) opened the game with a 9-0 run that was halted by a Alize Johnson putback of a missed Hicks 3-pointer.
Rio Grande Valley took a 28-17 lead when Chris Walker converted a layup with 18 seconds left in the first quarter, though the Mad Ants battled back to tie it at 30 when a Hicks 3-pointer was followed by two from Omari Johnson.
A Gray 3-pointer put Fort Wayne up 49-48 with 3:28 left in the second quarter. Fort Wayne’s Tra-Deon Hollins stole the ball underneath his own basket and then went the length of the court to set up Omari Johnson for a 3-pointer and a 69-60 lead with 10:12 left in the third quarter. A Hicks 3-pointer made it 75-60, and Hicks’ long-range pass set up Davon Reed for a dunk and an 84-66 lead with 6:50 left in the third quarter.
Former Mad Ants player Bruno Caboclo had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Vipers.
Fort Wayne was 16 of 34 from 3-point range.