SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – A seven-point lead heading into the fourth quarter dissipated Monday night as the Springfield Armor (11-20), presented by MGM Springfield, fell victim to a fourth-quarter rally in a 117-108 loss to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (20-13) at the MassMutual Center.
After missing their first six shots over more than five minutes to start the game, the Armor roared back in the first quarter to take a 19-18 edge into the second. Newly acquired Khalif Wyatt, picked up in a trade with Reno earlier in the day, poured in seven points off the bench in his first frame of action with Springfield.
The Armor pulled ahead by as many as five in the second quarter, but a 17-5 run put Fort Wayne up by seven at 42-35 with just over three minutes left in the half. Springfield battled back over the remaining minutes, chipping the Mad Ants’ lead back down to three at the break, 53-50.
Fort Wayne’s Ron Howard led the team with 13 before intermission to go along with Tony Mitchell’s 12 points off the bench. Starting guard Trey McKinney-Jones joined them in double figures with 10 of his own, but despite three scorers in double digits, the Mad Ants’ 11 personal fouls led to a 10-of-13 effort from the charity stripe for the Armor as Springfield coupled its freebies with six treys to trail by just three at the half. Wyatt led the scoring attack with 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting (2-for-2 from beyond the arc).
A 20-7 start over the first six minutes of the second half gave Springfield the first double figure lead of the evening when the Armor went up 70-60. The Mad Ants’ offense sparked after the 10-point deficit, ripping off eight straight points which ignited a 12-3 run that pulled Fort Wayne back within one. McKinney-Jones went on to score eight in the frame, but Wyatt’s three-pointer at the third quarter buzzer gave the home team a seven-point advantage heading into the final 12 minutes.
The fourth quarter would belong to Fort Wayne’s Brian Butch as the Mad Ants’ 6-11 center scored all 12 of his points in the final frame, going 4-for-4 from the field including three treys. After Springfield jumped up by nine less than a minute into the fourth, Fort Wayne ripped off a 17-5 run to open up its largest lead of the evening at 98-90. From that point forward the Mad Ants would never look back, extending their lead to as many as 17 to close out the 117-108 victory, their third straight.
Just back from New Orleans at NBA D-League All-Star, Adonis Thomas finished with a team-high 21, while Wyatt’s 19 gave a spark off the Armor bench. Springfield made nine more foul shots, but three 20-point scorers on the Fort Wayne roster (Mitchell: 22, Howard: 21 and McKinney-Jones: 20) pushed the Mad Ants past Springfield.