Losing streak reaches 4, fall to 7th place

Jacob Link, Assistant Sports Editor

Jacob Link / Advance-Titan
The Herd’s Jalen Lecque hangs on the rim after a dunk on Sunday’s loss to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

After returning from a two-game road trip, the Wisconsin Herd, the NBA G league affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks, fell to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (5-7) 113-110 on Feb. 6.

The Herd (6-7) have now lost four straight games and sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference of the G league, one game behind the Long Island Nets for the final playoff spot.

Herd forward Rayjon Tucker and guard Jalen Lecque scored 26 and 18 points, respectively, but it was not enough as the Mad Ants came from behind to win the game.

The Mad Ants took the lead early in the game, but the Herd cut the lead to just five by the end of the first quarter with Fort Wayne up 32-27. The Herd would pull to within one after scoring four straight points to open up the second quarter. Tucker would tie the game at 37 with a three-point play and 9:40 to go in the first half. Three minutes later, the Herd would take a 46-45 lead from a Tiwian Kendley layup. This sparked a 12-2 scoring run that saw the Herd take an 11-point lead with 3:12 to go in the half. At the break, the Herd led 66-57 with Tucker scoring 18 of his points in the first half. For most of the third quarter, both teams traded baskets and the Herd still led by 11 with six minutes left in the quarter.

Lecque had the highlight of the game in the third quarter when the 6-4 guard put Fort Wayne’s 6-7 forward Stephen Domingo on a high-flying poster dunk.

Lecque said about his dunk, “Yeah, it was pretty crazy. I thought he was going to jump, [but] he tried to set a charge [so] I’m like, alright it’s over with. That’s my guy though, we’re good though. But that was a bad, bad dunk.”

The Mad Ants slowly cut down the Herd lead, and the score was 90-84 by the end of the third quarter. Fort Wayne began the fourth quarter on a 7-0 scoring run to take the lead. Both teams would trade baskets, as there were five lead changes in the final ten minutes. The Mad Ants would take the lead for good after guard Justin Anderson converted on his two-point free throw (in the G League, teams only attempt one free throw every trip to the line except with under 2:00 to go in the game). Tucker was fouled on a three-point attempt with three minutes to go but could not convert the one-for-three free throw attempt that would have tied the game at 106.

Fort Wayne increased the lead to 111-105 with 1:17 to go, but the Herd were given hope after guard Tremont Waters responded with a three-pointer. With seven seconds to go and the score at 113-110, Waters missed a three-pointer that would have tied the game. The Mad Ants grabbed the rebound and ran out the clock to get the 113-110 win.

After the game, Tucker said, “They just wanted it more. At the end of the day, that’s what happened.”

“We got lackadaisical with the ball, we got complacent with the lead. [We] stopped beating them as hard on defense. We gave up the lead and made the game tough on ourselves in the last couple minutes of the game.”

The Herd are without three of their starters, as center Wenyen Gabriel recently signed a ten-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans. Forward Sandro Mamukelashvilli and guard Lindell Wigginton are currently up at the Milwaukee Bucks.

“We’ve had a lot of changes to our roster, so I think that’s what we’re going through right now,” head coach Chaisson Allen said. “We lost Wenyen Gabriel, which is great. He got a 10-day, we just traded Jemerrio Jones, and then Lindell, who has played a big part on our roster, so we’re going through some changes right now. We have to figure out a way to kind of get it going and play the right way offensively and then continue to get stops defensively.”

Tucker only scored six points in the second half, scoring 26 points, grabbing nine rebounds, and dishing out two assists to go with three steals and a blocked shot. When asked about scoring only six points in the second half, Tucker said, “they didn’t do anything too different, it’s just the way the game goes sometimes.”

Herd center Javin DeLaurier grabbed 19 rebounds, blocked two shots, and scored 14 points in the loss. Waters, who averages 5.6 assists per game, dished out 10 assists and scored 16 points.

“My whole life I have been doing a lot of drills, seeing things before they happen. My dad put me through a ton of drills that taught me to react and now nine times out of ten I’m going to make that read. It’s just a feel that you work on,” said Waters on how he became a good passer.
For the Mad Ants, Anderson scored 29 points, grabbed nine boards, blocked four shots, and dished out five assists. Forward Nate Hinton had a double-double for Fort Wayne, scoring 22 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

After the game, some of the Herd players were questioned as to how the team plans to rebound from their losing streak. “It starts in practice. It starts with me, Tremont, the leaders on this team, Lecque, so we just got to come in and prepare the guys and become more prepared, be more diligent about what we’re doing,” said Tucker. “[We need] to be more locked in, more focused, everything’s just got to be smarter, harder, and better.

“[We need] to hold everybody accountable and lead by example. I think those are the only two ways at the end of the day, everybody out here, we’re grown men so its not going to be a lot of telling people what to do. You got to lead by example and at the end of the day hold each other accountable for the things that go wrong.”

Lecque said, “We need to] work on adjusting because a lot of teams have a lot of players. Like today we had about nine [players] and they had about 15. That little stretch [at the end] we had more people playing double the minutes.”

Tremont Waters was optimistic saying, “we’re not too far off, we’ll have Black, that’s what we call him [Wenyen], [he’s] coming back from his 10-day and hopefully he’s able to get another one, but it would be great to have him back.”

The Herd will look to snap its four-game skid against the Maine Celtics (5-7) on Thursday Feb. 10, at 6 p.m. at the Portland Expo Building in Portland, Maine. The game will be televised on ESPN+ and locally on Channel 32 WACY-TV. Fans can also listen to Herd games on 96.3 FM.