Dakota 135, Fort Wayne 129
BISMARCK, N.D. March 9 -- Dakota Wizards guard Blake Ahearn scored a career-high 45 points and had nine assists in front of nearly 4,000 fans at the Bismarck Civic Center on Sunday to beat their divisional rival, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, 135-129.
Ahearn's 45 points in the contest puts him into the Wizards' record book, tied for sixth in single-game scoring.
Ahearn, averaging 29.1 points since moving into the starting lineup 12 games ago, was 14-for-14 from the charity stripe, bringing his current free throw streak to 67 straight. Ahearn has missed just seven of his 181 total attempts on the season.
“Blake was unstoppable today”, said Wizards coach Duane Ticknor. “We always say free throws win games, and that has never been more apparent than tonight. The ball went in today, and we played great defense.”
The Wizards (22-16) went 39-42 from the free throw line while shooting 60 percent from the field against a suspect Fort Wayne defense.
Rod Benson notched his fourth straight double-double with 26 points and 15 rebounds. Tony Gipson chipped in a season-high 23 points to go with his eight assists.
Fort Wayne (13-23) had seven players finish in double figures led by Roderick Wilmont, who scored 30 points. The Ants forward came off the bench Sunday, also dishing seven assists. Earl Calloway had 23 points in the loss while Corey Minnifield had 16 points.
The Wizards and Fort Wayne will face off again on Tuesday, March 11. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. CT. Dakota leads the season series 3-0 as the two divisional rivals meet five more times this month.