Both teams eventually got into a defensive groove after a blistering first half in the first game of the season which produced a Sioux Falls Skyforce 112-101 victory over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants Friday night at the Sanford Pentagon.

After putting the first six points on the board, Sioux Falls (1-0) never trailed and only allowed the Mad Ants (0-1) to get as close as three points throughout the game. After taking a 52-34 lead in the middle of the second quarter, Fort Wayne outscored the ‘Force 18-4 to narrow the gap. In the fourth quarter, the hosts were finally able to shake free and build the lead back to 15 points en route to the final margin.

Skyforce Head Coach Nevada Smith knew coming into the season that the defense would be an asset which helped overcome some offensive struggles.

“We weren’t doing a great job finishing on the offensive end. There were possessions where we didn’t find the open guy and there were possessions where we’d pass too much. We’re still learning each other on that end. Defensively it was nice to be able to have a closing lineup (Briante Weber, DeAndre Liggins, Bubu Palo) who know each other really well and mixing the guys in with them. Overall our defense was pretty good tonight.”

Forward Yante Maten who is on a 2-way contract with the Miami Heat found early success and led the Skyforce in scoring with 20 points in his NBA G League debut.

“I was just reading what the defense was doing. Whether they were switching or I could get a quick roll or quick pop, I was just really reading the court plus getting an offensive rebound when I could.”

Six players for Sioux Falls got at least 10 points with Weber accumulating 18 points, 8 assists, 8 steals, and 6 rebounds. Liggins hit 6 from long range for his 18 points, Duncan Robinson scored 15 and Raphiael Putney finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks.

Fort Wayne got 24 ponts and 14 rebounds from Davon Reed who is on a 2-way contract with the Indiana Pacers. Stephan Hicks got 20 points and Elijah Stewart added 15 points off the bench.

Sioux Falls will travel to Iowa to face the Wolves with both teams playing on consecutive days to start the season. Fort Wayne will get a rest before playing their next contest on Friday, November 9 at home against Erie.

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