SIOUX FALLS, SD – The Sioux Falls Skyforce (1-0) opened its 30th season with a 112-101 wire-to-wire victory over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (0-1) on Friday night at the Sanford Pentagon. Returning guard Briante Weber led the way for the Force, tallying 18 points, eight assists, eight steals, and six rebounds in the contest.
Miami HEAT two-way player Yante Maten (20 points and six rebounds) scored the game’s first two points and the home team never looked back, leading the Mad Ants by as many as 18 in the first half. Fellow HEAT two-way player Duncan Robinson caught fire early to help lead the charge, and scored 15 points in just 24 minutes after foul trouble slowed him down in the second half.
Fort Wayne came roaring back in the third quarter behind Indiana Pacers two-way player Davon Reed’s 25-point, 14-rebound double-double, cutting the deficit down to four points (87-84) heading into the final period. Stephan Hicks (20 points) accompanied Reed in leading the third-quarter comeback, but ultimately Sioux Falls’ defense proved to be too much down the stretch.
The Skyforce would go on to win the fourth quarter by a 25-18 margin, scoring 30 points off of 26 forced Mad Ant turnovers in the game. Raphiael Putney (12 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks) overcame a poor shooting night by recording a five-block double-double, while DeAndre Liggins (18 points, seven rebounds and five assists) picked up right where he left off in what was his first game in a Sioux Falls uniform since Game 3 of the 2016 NBA G League Finals.
Omari Johnson (11 points and 10 rebounds) tallied Fort Wayne’s second double-double of the night, while Elijah Stewart (15 points) and Tra-Deon Hollins (13 points and nine assists) rounded out much of the offensive attack in the loss. Indiana Pacers assignee Ike Anigbogu posted seven points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in just under 31 minutes of playing time.
Sioux Falls’ depth was on full display, as Rodney Purvis (10 points) tallied double-digit points in just 21 minutes off the bench, quietly leading a Skyforce reserve unit that scored 29 points in the game.