GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Drive (14-18) came out on top in a battle of two teams on the second game of back-to-backs on Saturday night, pulling ahead in the second half and beating the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (16-15) at home by a 117-95 final. It was back-and-forth for much of the game, but the Drive ended up with a substantial win stepping up offensively and defensively late in the third quarter to pull within 2.5 games of their division rival.
A combination of the back-to-back and a foul-heavy game led to very evenly distributed minutes for the Drive, with ten players playing at least 13 minutes. Zach Lofton, in his best game since returning to the Drive, led the team in scoring with 18 points off the bench. Henry Ellenson added 17 points and nine rebounds, Isaiah Whitehead also finished with 17 points, and Todd Withers, Marcus Thornton and Dakarai Allen were also all in double figures. Adam Woodbury led the Drive with 11 rebounds and Speedy Smith with eight assists.
The Mad Ants also dealt with foul trouble and lacked big individual scoring performances, as Stephan Hicks and Rob Gray shared the team lead in scoring with 15 points each. Ike Anigbogu added the game’s only double-double, finishing with 12 points and 11 minutes. Starting point guard Tra-Deon Hollins was limited to 24 minutes but still posted nine points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
The Drive drew 28 free throw attempts in the game and cashed in on all but two of them, with Whitehead doing the most damage by hitting all eight of his tries. The Ants were at the line even more as they ended up with 35, but they left some points on the board by hitting 77 percent of them. They also struggled from the field to the tune of 36 percent from the floor, the same percentage they shot from three-point range. The Drive did not rely heavily on the three-point shot but hit 42 percent of their tries from deep nonetheless.
The two teams have now met three times this year, with the Drive winning both of their home contests thus far. They will not meet again until the Drive’s final game of the regular season on March 23.