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Mad Ants coach still upset about Sioux Falls loss

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Tipoff: 7 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Coliseum

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Henry says team must improve mental side of play

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 3:21 pm

Three days after the Mad Ants threw away a game in Sioux Falls, coach Conner Henry's mood hadn't changed much.

He was still irritated.

The Mad Ants are 1-3 heading into this week's two home games in large part because they falter at the end of games. Their 114-110 overtime loss at Sioux Falls was as bitter of an example as any.

With a two-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Ants missed six free throws before Sioux Falls tied the game and forced overtime.

“Quite frankly, it's inexcusable,” Henry said. “We have to be mentally stronger. We were the better team overall for 44, 45 minutes of that game. We made arguably better decisions, more plays, more stops. But it resulted in three wasted days of my life at 17 below zero.”

On the return flight, the Ants were unable to make the last connection from Chicago to Fort Wayne and ended up riding in rental vans back in the middle of the night.

Needless to say, it was the longest trip of the season.

“A loss like that sits with me over a number of days,” Henry said.

The Ants will host Iowa at 7 p.m. Thursday and Idaho at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Coliseum.

Other areas of the Sioux Falls game upset Henry, including backup point guard Anthony Harris being ejected in the third quarter for putting his hands on a referee. The ejection was especially untimely since starting point guard Ron Howard was on the bench with foul trouble.

“Trey (McKinney-Jones) had to play point guard for 16, 17 minutes,” Henry said.

Henry said it's possible Harris could face a suspension for the incident, but the NBA Development League has not taken any additional action yet.

Henry spent much of the pre-practice huddle Tuesday talking with the team about the need to finish games.

“They're hearing it,” Henry said. “I think it's sinking in, so I've got to trust them that it is. I'll back them until we maybe have to make a decision on an alternative plan. As of right now, I don't want to go there with personnel (changes).”

Henry said it's possible that Chris Hunter, who has been on the inactive list, could join the active roster, but that will be determined over the next two days. The Ants released forward Terrance Henry, who was averaging 5.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.

“I'm still a little disappointed,” Henry said. “Our effort has been good. Our effort, for the most part, has put us in position to win games, but I'm getting tired of having to use that line.”