The bj-league’s already crowded Western Conference standings got a little tighter thanks to the Shiga Lakestars’ 77-70 home win over the Ryukyu Golden Kings on Saturday.
Mikey Marshall paced the Lakestars with 18 points and three steals, while power forward Gary Hamilton scored 17, grabbed nine boards, dished out four assists and collected three steals. Ray Schafer added 12 points, Masashi Joho scored 10, handed out five assists and also had three steals and Takamichi Fujiwara scored nine and had three assists.
The fourth-place Lakestars (23-20) started the day five games behind first-place Ryukyu in the standings.
The top five teams in the West are separated by six victories.
Entering the fourth quarter, Shiga and Ryukyu were tied at 55-55, and it was tied again at 57-57, 59-59 and 61-61.
It was 64-64 with 5:30 remaining, and then the Lakestars went on a game-deciding 8-0 run.
Hamilton’s offensive rebound and putback gave the hosts a two-point lead, and they pulled ahead 68-64 on a Hamilton basket.
For the Golden Kings (27-16), George Leach had 20 points, Anthony McHenry scored 12 and Masahiro Obuchi added 10.
Ryukyu shot 5-for-13 from the free-throw line.
The Rizing Fukuoka and the Osaka Evessa, who began the day in second and third place, respectively, meanwhile, squared off in Kansai.
The Evessa’s strong start in the first and third quarters triggered an 89-61 home victory for coach Kensaku Tennichi’s team.
Osaka (25-16) moved into second place with a solid all-around effort. Nile Murry paced the hosts with 23-points, 10 rebounds and five assists, Ryan Blackwell scored 15, Lynn Washington had 11 and Hirohisa Takada had 10, including 2-for-4 from 3-point range. David Palmer chipped in with nine points.
For the Rizing (26-17), Michael Parker, the league’s leading scorer at 26.9 points per game, was held to 17 points. Marlyn Bryant, who scored 10 points, was Fukuoka’s only other double-digit scorer.
Elsewhere Saturday, Josh Peppers’ 29 points led the Sendai 89ers to a 99-83 home win over the Saitama Broncos.
Gyno Pomare added 15 points and nine rebounds and frontcourt mate Chris Holm had 10 points and 19 boards as the 89ers improved to 28-13, the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
Kenichi Takahashi added 11 points and 10 assists and Nick DeWitz scored 11. Rookie point guard Shinnosuke Oishi scored 10 points in 12 minutes, going 3-for-3 from the field, including a 3-pointer, and 3-for-3 from the foul line.
For the Broncos (13-28), Kirby Lemons scored a team-high 26 points and Terrence Roberts had 20 points.
William Knight scored 27 points, including 4-for-5 from 3-point range, and Wendell White had 18 in the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix’s 93-81 win over the visiting Tokyo Apache.
The Phoenix (33-8) had five double-digit scorers.
Cohey Aoki and Julius Ashby each scored 20 points for the Apache (15-26), who play host to the Toyama Grouses on Wednesday and Thursday at Yoyogi National Gymnasium No. 2.
Led by big man Johann Collins’ 25-point performance, the Grouses defeated the host Niigata Albirex BB 86-65.
Takeshi Mito had 13 points and Makoto Kato poured in 10 for the Grouses, while Brandon Thomas added eight points and 10 boards.
Calvin Chitwood was the top scorer for the Albirex (20-21) with 15 points and Paul Butorac had a 13-point game.
The Takamatsu Five Arrows snapped an eight-game losing streak, beating the host Kyoto Hannaryz 90-79.
Jeffrey Price paced Takamatsu (12-31) with 24 points and Antoine Broxsie had a double-double (23 points, 18 boards and seven blocked shots), while Yu Okada scored 16 and Michael Gardener had a nine-point, eight-rebound, nine assist outing, as well as nine turnovers.
Reda Rhalimi scored a team-high 28 points for the Hannaryz, who played their first game under new head coach Kazuto Aono. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf added 24 points, John Clifford hauled in 17 rebounds and Jun Iwasa scored nine points.
Kyoto (14-27) has lost six straight games.