The Erie BayHawks came into tonight’s single elimination game against the Mad Ants as the three seed in the Eastern Conference. Erie was able to defeat the Magic in their first game after John Gillon and Raphiael Putney posted a combined 39 points. The Mad Ants were the two seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs and posed a tall task for Erie to overcome.
The first quarter saw the Bayhawks get off to a fast start on both ends as the teams exchanged buckets in the early going. Jeremy Evans had the hot hand and was in the lane relentlessly pacing Erie to a 21-8 start. For the Mad Ants, it was the University of Miami product DeQuan Jones doing it all to keep them in the game getting to the rim with his good leaping ability. Chris McCollough had a massive slam in the lane with a foul to boot to stabilize the Bayhawks and give them some momentum at the end of the first quarter. The Bayhawks put on an offensive clinic against the Mad Ants in the quarter and carried a big-time lead into the second up 35-24.
Andrew White really got going at the end of the first and into the beginning of the second quarter hitting jump shots from all over the floor. Josh Magette and Raphiael Putney nailed back-to-back three pointers as the game began to get away from Fort Wayne. The Bayhawks could not miss from three-point range in the second quarter as the Mad Ants did not know what hit them. Fort Wayne attempted to make up some ground on the back of Jarrod Uthoff’s three-point shooting but the fast play of the Bayhawks was simply too much as they held a 73-59 halftime lead.
The Bayhawks did not show any signs of slowing down in the third quarter as Craig Sword got going on the defensive end and then was able to get some easy shots in transition to boost Erie. The Mad Ants were having a hard time holding onto the ball as the turnovers continued to pile up and the Bayhawks transition points did the same. Fort Wayne closed the gap slightly with the Bayhawks backups in, but Erie was still firmly in control after three quarters up 95-85.
Everything continued to go the Bayhawks way early in the fourth as Putney continued his good work of late from beyond the arc. Things would tighten up midway through the quarter as the Mad Ants began to get things working from three-point range. DeQuan Jones really came up big down the stretch for Fort Wayne hitting a massive three pointer with just under a minute and a half to go to pull the Mad Ants to within three.
The final minute was hectic to say the least, as the Mad Ants had multiple layup opportunities that they could not convert. Thankfully, Jeremy Evans was able to put down an alley-oop with 20 seconds remaining to push the Bayhawks over the top. Erie seemed to relax defensively after they went up by 20 early in the fourth which is not a good sign and they will have to correct that in their next game for sure.
For now, Erie will prepare for the Eastern Conference Final game against the Raptors 905 as they come one step closer to a G League Championship. Stay tuned.