Sioux Falls found the right combination to lock down the Fort Wayne Mad Ants 102-91 Friday night at the Sanford Pentagon.

Starting with defense, the Skyforce (8-3) flustered two top performers for the Mad Ants. Coming into the game, Rakeem Christmas (on assignment from Indiana) and C.J. Fair combined for almost 35 points per game on average. Sioux Falls held them to 6 total. Fort Wayne (8-6) did get solid performances from another Indiana assignee Shayne Whittington (22 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals), along with Walter Lemon, Jr. (17 points, 4 assists, 5 steals) and Marcus Simmons (15 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists).

Skyforce center Keith Benson says being able to defend is the key to their success. “We focus on how many points the other team should score on us. Having a deep offensive team gives us the motivation to stop people which helped us (tonight).”

However there were two critical areas that tilted the balance of this game to the hosts. First, both teams committed numerous turnovers with 29 for Sioux Falls and 25 for the Mad Ants. The conversion rate off those miscues shows the Skyforce gaining 36 points with Fort Wayne only 20. Meanwhile, Sioux Falls was also able to control the glass and won the rebound battle 45-29.

Fort Wayne scored the first three points of the game and held a lead of 7-4. Once the Skyforce took the lead at 10-9 from there it was firmly in hand the rest of the way. After one quarter the lead was nine and 11 points at half. Only once did the Mad Ants threaten, closing to within 45-40 in the second quarter.

Central in those rebound collecting chores were Benson (26 points, 13 rebounds) and DeAndre Liggins who posted a triple double (14 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists). The last rebound that sealed the accomplishment came after contracting a serious leg cramp midway through the fourth period. Benson says those rebounds took some work. “I was trying to be aggressive to stop my man, then clear space to try to get as many rebounds as I could get.”

What is it with the Skyforce and Double Digit Wins?

Coach Dan Craig saluted the effort. “To have 8 shot attempts and walk away with a triple double is pretty impressive. He came out focused because he was frustrated the way he played last game (against the Vipers).” Craig also says Benson’s play was critical. “For Keith to step up and have those numbers tonight was really good and helped us bounce back.”

The triple double for Liggins is the first in the NBADL this season. In the 27 year history of the franchise it’s the 20th overall. Larry Drew II was the last to complete the feat against the Idaho Stampede on March 28, 2015. See the highlight package below.

Next for the Skyforce will be the first visit to Sioux Falls for the expansion 905 Raptors on Tuesday. Fort Wayne will return home to face the Reno Bighorns on Tuesday as well.