NBA D-League Semifinals
Best of three
Game 1: Mad Ants 113, Sioux Falls 111
Game 2: 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Coliseum
Game 3 (if necessary): 7 p.m. Monday at Memorial Coliseum.
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Tony Mitchell lives to create shots on the basketball court, and the Mad Ants are winners again because of it.
Mitchell drove, hung in the air and banked in a short jumper with 4.2 seconds left to give the Mad Ants a 113-111 win over Sioux Falls in Game 1 of the NBA Development League semifinals on Thursday at the Sanford Pentagon.
"Tony, at times, is spectacular," Ants coach Conner Henry said. "He just it got over the rim, it skimmed the rim and went off the backboard. Tony has an incredible ability to get his shot off, but it was an unbelievable play. I'm happy for him and happy for the team. They kept battling and battling and here we go."
Game 2 of the best-of-three series is 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Coliseum. Game 3 (if necessary) is 7 p.m. Monday at the coliseum.
The Ants trailed by 12 points entering the fourth quarter and three key players fouled out in the quarter: starters Ron Howard and Sadiel Rojas and sixth-man Tim Ohlbrecht. Starting guard Trey McKinney-Jones left the game with a neck injury.
Yet the Ants found a way to win.
One of the key series leading up to Mitchell's game winner came with the Mad Ants trailing 104-94 with less than 5 minutes to play. Rojas drew a foul on a three-point shot, hit the first two free throws and missed the third. But Chris Porter grabbed the rebound and dished the ball to Matt Bouldin, who drilled a three-point shot. The Ants' five-point possession cut the lead in half and gave them needed momentum.
"CP (Porter) played huge down the stretch," Henry said, adding that Porter's leadership in the huddle is invaluable. "I can't say enough about CP."
Mitchell hit a deep three to cut the lead to 106-104 with 2:50 left, but Sioux Falls' Henry Walker answered with a three to push it back it back to 109-104.
Later, Bouldin found Porter off a pick-and-roll to cut the margin to 109-107 and Mitchell hit a pair of free throws to tie the game with 1:20 left. The Ants took their first lead of the fourth quarter on two more Mitchell free throws with 29.2 seconds left.
Sioux Falls' DeAndre Liggins, who finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists, was fouled by Rojas (his sixth) with 24.7 seconds left and hit both to make it 111-111.
The Ants elected to put the ball in Mitchell's hands on the perimeter and let him drain the clock before his final drive made it 113-111.
A deep shot by Liggins at the buzzer came up short.
"We continue to find a way," Henry said.
Rojas led the Ants with 20 points, Mitchell scored 19 and Will Frisby, Howard and Bouldin scored 14 apiece. The Ants had eight players in double figures.
Fort Wayne: McKinney-Jones 5-9 1-1 12, Rojas 7-15 3-5 20, Frisby 5-6 4-4 14, Howard 5-8 4-5 14, Bouldin 6-10 1-4 14, Ohlbrecht 2-3 6-7 10, Mitchell 6-16 5-5 19, Porter 5-6 0-1 10, R. Harris 0-1 0-0 0, A. Harris 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 41-74 24-32 113.
Sioux Falls: Liggins 4-12 8-8 19, Walker 8-12 4-6 24, Smith 3-10 2-2 8, Kelley 6-14 2-3 14, Drew 5-13 1-2 12, Mason 4-5 1-2 9, Oriakhi 1-4 2-2 4, Davis 7-12 2-2 19, Allen 1-2 0-0 0. Totals 39-84 22-27 111.
Three-point goals: FW/7-23 (Rojas 3-8, Mitchell 2-7, McKinney-Jones 1-3, Bouldin 1-3, Howard 0-1, R. Harris 0-1), SF/11-29 (Walker 4-6, Liggins 3-7, Davis 3-7, Drew 1-5, Kelley 0-4). Rebounds: FW/41 (Porter 7, Rojas 6, Mitchell 6), SF/35 (Liggins 13). Assists: FW/ 29 (Mitchell 7, Bouldin 6, Frisby 4, Howard 4), SF/24 (Kelley 10, Liggins 8). Steals: FW/13 (Howard 4, Porter 3), SF/12. Blocks: FW/3, SF/4. Turnovers: FW/21, SF/21, Total fouls: FW/28, SF/28. Technical fouls: FW/Bouldin, SF/Smith (2). Attendance: 2,701