FORT WAYNE — It was a close game at Memorial Coliseum until an unlikely player, Will Frisby, took it over Saturday night.
“Coach and my teammates had the confidence in me to finish the game,” said Frisby, a 6-foot-8, 250-pound forward who is averaging 6.6 points per game, after the 105-95 victory over the Canton Charge.
“Before I went in, Coach told me, ‘Just go out there and grab some rebounds and any opportunity you can get, shoot the ball.’ ”
The Mad Ants came into the fourth quarter clinging to a 78-77 lead and Frisby was scoreless.
He went on to account for 11 of the Mad Ants’ 27 points down the stretch, as Fort Wayne (16-11) pulled within one game of Canton (17-10) for first place in the division.
Frisby also got all five of his rebounds in the fourth, in front of 3,941 fans, as Fort Wayne won for the 10th time in 14 games.
“I was pleased with everybody’s smarts and patience,” Fort Wayne coach Conner Henry said. “We ran some plays for Will. We got him the ball low. He gathered himself and he finished. That’s good for his confidence, and the guys were up off the bench, yelling and screaming for him.”
Fort Wayne was paced by 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists from Ron Howard, who had only one point on four shots in 40 minutes of the 101-100 loss Friday at Canton.
He still came into Saturday as the sixth-leading scorer in the D-League with 22.1 points per game and is likely to be selected an all-star this week.
“He wasn’t getting a whole lot of love from the officials (Friday). I felt like he was getting beat up a lot in that game,” Henry said. “But looking at the film, he also wasn’t coming off his screens hard. Tonight, he was more aggressive.
“He showed up in pregame and you could see he was knocking down shots and was in a full sweat. Ron’s a pro, and when I woke up the first thing I thought about was, ‘Ron’s going to have a good game.’ ”
Peyton Siva, who was sent down by the Detroit Pistons on Friday, began his second stint with the Mad Ants with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting. He was 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
His Pistons teammate, Tony Mitchell, had six points and nine rebounds in his first game back. They are expected to be with the Mad Ants for two weeks.
Trey McKinney-Jones had 17 points and Tony R. Mitchell added 12 for Fort Wayne.
“We owed Canton,” said Frisby, whose team has won three of five against the Charge this season.
“We came in here with the mindset that we needed to get this win. We came through with a different game plan than we had (Friday) night and it paid off.”
The Charge was led by Gilbert Brown’s 17 points and Jorge Gutierrez’s 15. Robert Hite added 14.
Arinze Onuaku had nine points and 13 rebounds for Canton.
“We had a lot of focus and urgency (in the fourth quarter),” Henry said.
“It was the same type of game up there in Canton and … we didn’t quite get enough stops (Friday) night, but we knew this as an important game.”