The Capital City Go-Go entered Thursday night’s game against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on a three-game win streak. Both teams came into the game 17-17, fighting for 8th place in the Eastern Conference standings. Needless to say, getting the win would be meaningful for both teams.
Fort Wayne wings C.J. Wilcox and Brian Bowen II were problems in the first quarter with 9 points each. Both players got a decent amount of open looks but hit even on shots that were being tightly contested. Noah Allen and Jerian Grant each had 7 points to pace the Go-Go. Go-Go led 34-32 after the first period.
I think it is fair to say the Go-Go haven’t exactly gotten off to the hottest starts in their last few games. Looking at tonight’s box score you might think that this was another one of those nights. However, they were not only scoring effectively on offense, but they were also playing pretty solid defense. Both teams just played high-level basketball. Probably higher quality basketball than fans would expect to see during a G League game.
The referees also seemed to be inconsistent about what was or wasn’t a foul. Both teams seemed a bit unsure of how tightly to contest certain shots for fear of drawing an unnecessary foul.
The second quarter was, unfortunately for the Go-Go, more of the same. It was extremely back and forth as they were able to score efficiently but couldn’t get any stops. The Mad Ants, Walt Lemon Jr. and Wilcox specifically, scored with relative ease for much of the period. Wilcox was the leading scorer for both teams with 18 in the half. Despite being relatively even in most statistical categories, the Go-Go still managed to have a modest 69-65 lead at halftime.
Jalen Jones and Noah Allen stepped up
Jalen Jones continued to lead the Go-Go with 14 points. He hit one particularly effortless looking three-pointer that helped the Go-Go have a little breathing room. This was nice to see for the forward who was recently named to the FIBA AmeriCup team. That team will compete against Puerto Rico at the Entertainment and Sports Arena on February 23rd. After the game, Jones talked about that honor and being hopeful that he could take advantage of friendly rims.
Noah Allen was the difference-maker early in the third quarter. With five minutes to go, he had 16 points to help the Go-Go distance themselves. Unfortunately, a few defensive lapses allowed the Mad Ants to work their way back into the game. They cut the Go-Go lead to only three, 92-89, with under three minutes left in the third.
Couldn’t break this one open
For much of the third and early fourth quarters, it looked like at any second Capital City would break the game open. Just as they would extend the lead to double digits, they would have a bad turnover or give up an uncontested three-pointer and allow Fort Wayne to inch closer.
A tough finish by Johnathan Williams and a three-pointer by Garrison Mathews helped the Go-Go nose in front in the final minute of play. Mathews missed the back-end of a one-and-one and the Go-Go had a bad turnover late that led to an easy lay-up for Fort Wayne. With 23 seconds left, the Go-Go lead was down to 126-123.
Luckily, the Go-Go made the majority of their remaining free-throws down the stretch and were able to eke out a 130-125 win. They have now won four straight games and are above .500 on the year. Their next game is not until Friday, February 21, at 7 p.m. when they take on the Greensboro Swarm.