The Canton Charge hit shots the Mad Ants couldn't, plain and simple.
“They hit some tough shots,” Fort Wayne’s Brian Bowen II said after a 124-113 loss to the Charge in front of 3,350 fans at Memorial Coliseum today. “I feel like some of them, we contested really well. Some of them, I felt like we scrambled and weren’t great. A lot of their shots that came were toward the end of the shot clock.
“They hit some tough shots and some open ones, as well, and it was just their night. In the first half they shot (56.1%) from the field. In the second half, they did pretty much the same thing, so it was one of those nights for them. We’re going to learn from it.”
Bowen had the finest game of his first G League season with 34 points – he made 15 of 24 shots – and seven rebounds. (Video highlights are above.)
“I just tried not to force anything,” Bowen said. “Whatever the defense was giving me, I tried to take advantage of that. I was just trying to pick my spots and also find my teammates, as well. Whenever the game comes to me, I don’t want to force anything. I just want to do whatever I can to help my team get the win. Unfortunately, we came up short. But we brought some fight, for sure.”
Canton (24-13) had seven players score in double figures, including Dean Wade with 29 points. Marques Bolden, Sheldon Mac and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had 18 points apiece.
It didn’t help matters for Fort Wayne that it was outshot (53.8% to 49.5%), its 3-point shooting was a dismal 6 for 28 (including 0 for 7 by specialist C.J. Wilcox), and its free-throw shooting was 8 of 14.
The Mad Ants (18-20), who have lost four of their last five games, were without star point guard Walt Lemon Jr. (paternity leave) and guard Naz Mitrou-Long, who is rehabilitating an ankle injury with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.
That left the Mad Ants with a less familiar lineup, as recently acquired Scoochie Smith and Bowen, normally a forward, started in the backcourt. But the Charge was missing J.P. Macura, who is with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Levi Randolph, who is with the U.S. National Team.
“We had 16 turnovers and when we turn the ball over and miss 3s … it’s tough,” coach Steve Gansey said. “I wish we had Walt with us. He’s won us a lot of games with his ability to get to the basket and just sharing the ball, too. When you have kids, (missing games) is what happens.”
The Mad Ants, who have 12 games remaining in the regular season, are 2½ games back of Delaware for the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But the Mad Ants must also leapfrog Capital City and College Park to make the postseason, and their first opportunity to make up ground will be 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Mississauga, Ontario, against Raptors 905 (17-20).
Fort Wayne’s Stephan Hicks had 18 points, including 2 of 3 shooting from beyond the arc. He surpassed Rod Wilmont for second place in Fort Wayne’s all-time list of made 3-pointers and is one back of Ramon Harris.
Harris played for the Mad Ants from 2011 to 2016 and was a career 36.6% shooter from 3-point range with Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids and Iowa. Hicks has been a 34.9% shooter over his five seasons with Fort Wayne.