FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Mad Ants (19-15) fell short when they faced the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (22-14) on Friday night.
With two minutes remaining, the Mad Ants faced an eight-point deficit. Two free throws by Ben Bentil followed by a fast break layup gave Fort Wayne a chance with a minute and a half left. They could not overcome the four point Rio Grande Valley lead. The Vipers iced the game at the free throw line. Darius Morris had nine points in the final three minutes to seal the game for Rio Grande Valley as they beat the Mad Ants 125-115.
Vipers looked to take control early, starting the game on a 6-0 run. They built an early lead in the middle of the quarter on a 10-0 run, including two 3-pointers.
Rio Grande Valley was leading 24-14 with two minutes left in the first. Alex Poythress kept the Mad Ants close, as he scored nine points off the bench in the quarter. Seven of his points came in the last two minutes to cut the Viper lead to six, going into the second period (30-24).
The Vipers looked to build on their lead in the second quarter, starting with a 7-0 run. The Mad Ants responded with a 7-0 run of their own courtesy of Poythress and Jared Uthoff.
Fort Wayne cut the deficit down to four in the quarter thanks to Jordan Loyd lighting a spark off the bench. Rio Grande Valley answered with a 9-2 run to keep their distance. Jarvis Threatt was provided some key buckets, scoring nine points in the quarter. The Vipers went into halftime leading 63-48.
Poythress led the Mad Ants in scoring in the half with 15 points. Loyd added 10 points while Uthoff almost had a double-double in the first half, recording nine points and seven rebounds. The Viper’s Chinanu Onuako had double-double in the half with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The Mad Ants were unable to make a run in the third quarter. Rio Grande Valley continued their dominance; they stretched their lead out to as much as 19. The Vipers played physical and worked their way to the foul line 10 times in the quarter.
Trey McKinney-Jones scored eight points in the third quarter to help keep the Mad Ants in the game. Onuako was Rio Grande Valley’s go-to option on offense adding nine more points to his total. He helped the Vipers hold an 89-77 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Fort Wayne had its work cut out for them if it was going to make a comeback in the final period. Poythress went down with an injury in the latter part of the third.
The Mad Ants comeback attempt fell just short; this marked the teams fifth straight loss. Uthoff finished with a double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds. McKinney-Jones finished with 20 points, and Ben Bentil was not far behind with 19 of his own.
Rio Grande Valley had three players score 20-plus points. Morris led with 28 points, Onuako’s double-double finished at 27 points with 20 rebounds. Isaiah Taylor added 21 points of his own.
Fort Wayne travel to face the Erie Bayhawks tomorrow night with tip-off set for 7:00 p.m.