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Cissoko, Sane's career-nights spoiled by 22-point home loss

Updated: Jan 16, 2023

The recent rough patch for the NBA G League Ignite got a little rougher to start this week as the team lost their fourth game in the last six outings.


Still continuing a season-long homestand, the Ignite lost, 141-119, to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants Monday, Jan. 16 from The Dollar Loan Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The 141 points allowed goes down as a season-high for an Ignite opponent this season.


All five of the losses for this year’s developmental group have come at home this season. Currently, the team is 5-5 on the year.


“We’re the youngest team,” head coach Jason Hart said. “This is kind of how this goes [...] It stings that we lost but every game for me is its own entity. We didn’t play good enough defense tonight.”


With one more game to play on this seven-game homestand, the Ignite will host the same Mad Ants Tuesday, Jan. 17 from The DLC. The Ignite have had just one practice since Dec. 27.


“You go two, three weeks [without a practice] with these 17 and 18 year olds, it’s tough for them to retain,” Hart said. “Our practice time is games unfortunately so we just have to watch the film and get better from that game.”


Fort Wayne was able to use a quick start to the second quarter to run away with the MLK midday matchup. The Mad Ants opened the quarter on a 17-4 run that would eventually stretch to 20-4 for the team’s largest lead of the game at the time, 16 points.


“[It] was the defense,” guard Sidy Cissoko said. “We had a lot of fouls and they didn’t miss a lot of free throws. They make the most free throws in the league right now.”


By halftime, the lead was 18 points behind a 39-21 second quarter from Fort Wayne.


In the first quarter, the Ignite fell behind by 12 points early and clawed their way back into the game. It was a 15-4 run that cut the Mad Ants’ lead to just one before shortly taking the lead after extending the run to 18-4.


“They hit a lot of threes,” Hart said. “The young guys today just kept forgetting a lot. It was tough to combat that so our film will be our practice.”


Fort Wayne outscored the Ignite 103-81 after the first quarter having played eight players for the vast majority of the game.


Veteran guard John Jenkins led all Ignite players with 23 points on 9-of-13 from the field including a 4-for-5 mark from three-point range.


Cissoko added a career-high 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting with three made threes. He also added two rebounds, two assists and a steal.


“He’s making open shots,” Hart said. “[Guard Scoot Henderson] draws a lot of attention so people get wide-open shots. He’s stepping into [the shots] and being aggressive driving to the rim and that’s what he has to do: use his size and athleticism to get inside the paint.” Cissoko has now scored in double-figures in six of the last seven outings.


“I’m just giving what they give me,” Cissoko said. “I just have to be confident and knock down all the shots I take. All my teammates believe I can score.”


The already-limping Ignite frontcourt endured another blow as center Eric Mika missed this one with back spasms. The team was already without forward Shareef O’Neal (ankle) and center Efe Abogidi (knee), who is expected to miss the rest of the regular season.


Forward Leonard Miller started in the depleted frontcourt but was limited in action due to foul trouble.


“We’ve never practiced with those types of lineups before,” Hart said. “Nobody cares as far as what’s going on on our side as far as injuries. So you’ve just got to play and compete and do the best you can.”

Miller got things rolling in the second half, scoring eight of his 12 points in the third or fourth quarters. He shot 6-of-15 from the floor in just 17 minutes of action.


Reserve forward Babacar Sane posted his first career double-double with 17 points and a game-high 18 rebounds.


Guards London Johnson and Cameron Young also recorded double-digit scoring nights with 11 and 10 points respectively.


Henderson filled the stat line with nine points, seven rebounds, five assists and a steal.

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