Turnovers Cost Maine in OT Loss to Mad Ants
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - The Maine Celtics, presented by Unum, never trailed during the 48 minutes of regulation but came up short in overtime, 130-129, against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Juwan Morgan's 23 points, eight rebounds and two steals led the Celtics (4-4). Chris Clemons added 18 points and 10 rebounds. Luke Kornet and Denzel Valentine (making his Maine debut) each had 16 points, with Kornet tallying six rebounds and Valentine collecting eight boards and four assists. Sam Hauser finished with 14 points and four rebounds. Jaysean Paige had 13 points and four rebounds, and Bruno Fernando put up 12 points, six rebounds and three assists. Brodric Thomas scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds. 27 turnovers, including some costly ones down the stretch, would sink Maine today.
Fort Wayne (3-4) was led by Two-Way Player Terry Taylor with 39 points. Gabe York added 30 in the win.
Thomas started right where the Celtics left off after a record-breaking shooting performance on Saturday, banking in a triple on the first possession. Thomas would hit another to help Maine out to an early 12-2 lead. Fort Wayne scored two straight buckets out of a timeout to get the ball rolling. Valentine checked in for the first time in a Celtics uniform and splashed home a three soon after. Fernando found Morgan for an and-one finish. Morgan totaled 14 points in the quarter, powering Maine to a 34-25 lead after one.
Gabe York carried the Mad Ants through the first with 15 points, and Terry Taylor came out strong with six points to start the second and give Fort Wayne a burst. Paige's transition dunk minutes later brought Maine's lead up to a dozen, 49-37. The Celtics hit four straight threes in the middle of the quarter, but York and a warming Cody Rowsey kept the Mad Ants within striking distance. Nate Hinton was assessed a flagrant 1 foul on Kornet in the final minute and Maine went into the break leading, 69-63. Maine shot 26-44 (61.9 percent) from the field, 12-22 (60 percent) from distance and 3-3 (100 percent) at the line in the first half. Fort Wayne shot 25-51 (49 percent) from the field, 7-18 (38.9 percent) from distance and 3-4 (75 percent) at the line.
Burton's driving and dishing and Kornet's powerful finishing pushed the Celtics out to an 11-4 run to get the second half underway. Taylor's second three of the game halted Maine's run and brought the Mad Ants within 10 points, trailing 80-70. York would hit from deep to make it a five-point game before Clemons responded from deep himself. The Celtics went on a 7-2 run to end the third, giving themselves a 99-89 lead.
Valentine scored five quick points at the start of the fourth. Justin Anderson dropped 11 consecutive points for the Mad Ants, and a 19-7 run helped Fort Wayne cut Maine's lead to one, 114-113. Maine missed a few open shots that were falling for them earlier in the game as the Mad Ants ramped up the pressure. Morgan momentarily took control of the offense, scoring back-to-back buckets in the low-post. The Celtics would stretch the lead to 10 with just under two minutes to go, but errant shots and turnovers let Fort Wayne back into it, and Taylor tied it, 125-125 with 12.6 seconds left after a tough finish through contact. Clemons' buzzer-beating attempt was blocked and the game went to overtime.
On the opening possession of the overtime period, York gave the Mad Ants their first lead of the game with a three. Kornet finished a transition dunk following a steal. Hauser knocked down an elbow jumper to give the Celtics a 129-128 lead, but York's finger roll lay-in with 21.3 seconds left proved to be the game-winner.
The Maine Celtics will play another game against the Mad Ants in Indianapolis before heading to Detroit to take on the Motor City Cruise on Jan. 30. Maine returns to The Expo to host the Grand Rapids Gold on Feb. 4.
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