ORLANDO, Fla. – Agua Caliente controlled large portions of Friday’s game, but Fort Wayne controlled the final 1:21 of game clock to close out a 109-108 win. The Mad Ants outscored the Clippers 10-0 in that time frame, capped by Daxter Miles Jr. rebounding his own shot that was blocked and hitting a layup with 8.1 seconds left to take the lead.
Naz Mitrou-Long’s near triple double pushed Fort Wayne with his 19 points, seven rebounds and season high 12 assists. Brian Bowen II also had a double double with 17 points and a season high 15 rebounds.
Fort Wayne outshot the Clippers 48.9 percent to 45.7 percent from the field; Agua Caliente held the rebounding advantage 52-45.
Agua Caliente hit seven of their first eight shots in the game to pull out to a 17-12 lead despite Fort Wayne going 6-of-7 at the rim in the same time period, at the 7:18 mark of the first quarter. With 6:22 left in the first, Fort Wayne pulled ahead, 20-17, on a Bowen three pointer off a drive and kick assist from Jalen Lecque. Fort Wayne retained their lead through the rest of the quarter with Jahmi’us Ramsey powering through for an and-one with 3.4 seconds left to pull the Clippers to within 33-31 at the end of the first.
A Malik Fitts baseline drive with 9:04 to play in the second gave the Clippers a 38-37 lead before Cassius Stanley answered back for Fort Wayne on the other end with a corner three. With 3:46 to play in the half, Jordan Ford drove to the basket on a second chance opportunity to score and push Agua Caliente ahead 56-48, their biggest lead of the game to that point. An Amir Coffey dunk on the next possession would push the Clipper lead to 10. Agua Caliente led 67-58 at the half.
Devin Robinson hit a midrange jumper with 6:27 left in the third to start to break the back and forth of the teams in the quarter. It pulled Fort Wayne back within six at 75-69. The teams continued to trade blows until a James Palmer Jr. breakaway for a two-handed flush pushed Agua Caliente’s run to a 9-2 advantage and their lead back out to 13 points. Quincy McKnight’s skip pass to Mitrou-Long in the far corner with 1:21 remaining in the third drew Fort Wayne back within six, 90-84. The Clippers held on to a 90-89 lead after three.
The Clippers pushed their lead back to six with 7:31 left in the game on a Palmer Jr. and-one basket and attached free throw. Tyrone Wallace’s hook shot with 5:33 to go made the lead double digits again for the Clippers; he followed that up with another score at the rim on the next possession to give Agua Caliente a 105-93 lead on a 15-4 run to start the fourth. Fort Wayne would get back to a six point deficit with 1:11 to play on a Bowen II three pointer. With 22.4 seconds left, another Bowen three pointer pulled Fort Wayne to be down just 108-107.
Fort Wayne forced a turnover on an inbounds play and chaotic run followed with Miles Jr. scoring with 8.1 seconds left to give Fort Wayne a 109-108 lead and the win.
Behind Mitrou-Long and Bowen II, Fort Wayne had five other players in double figures scoring. Josh Gray scored 14 points, as did Amida Brimah, Stanley scored 13, Lecque had 11 and Robinson scored 10.
Agua Caliente was led by Amir Coffey’s 19 points and 17 from Palmer Jr.
The Mad Ants next game is set for Sunday against Lakeland at 3 p.m.