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Aoki buzzer-beater propels Evessa to win over Brave Warriors

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Game highlights may rarely appear frequently on national news telecasts, but the bj-league is providing lots of drama on a regular basis.

Cohey Aoki became the second well-known bj-league star to bury a game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds over the weekend.

The six-time All-Star sank a buzzer-beater in overtime against the Shinshu Brave Warriors on Sunday, lifting the Osaka Evessa to an 86-83 triumph at Sumiyoshi Sports Center.

Ryukyu Golden Kings forward David Palmer’s 3 was the difference in a dramatic victory over the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix on Saturday.

Osaka (22-8) received key contributions from Lynn Washington (22 points, eight rebounds), Mike Bell (17 points), Masashi Obuchi (13 points), Aoki (11 points) Wayne Marshall (10 points, nine boards) and Bobby St. Preux (six points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals).

And with the game tied at 83-83, the Evessa inbounded the ball for a final shot with 5 seconds to play. Coach Ryan Blackwell drew up a play during a timeout, and backcourt mate Kevin Tyner registered his lone assist, a huge one, getting the ball to Aoki. The veteran sharpshooter swished the shot from the right wing with no time left on the clock, sending his teammates leaping for joy and thrilling the home crowd.

Derek Raivio led Shinshu (12-20) with 30 points. Lee Roberts added 15 for the expansion squad, Takato Saito had 11, Edward Morris 10 and Tyler Hughes finished with eight points and 19 rebounds.

The Evessa, which completed a two-game sweep, now shift their attention to a road trip against the Saitama Broncos next weekend.

Phoenix 101, Golden Kings 97

In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, Hamamatsu bounced back from a series-opening setback to earn a split.

Jermaine Dixon paced the Phoenix (21-11, tops in the Eastern Conference) with 36 points and five assists. Wayne Arnold added 17 points, Shoji Nakanishi and Jeffrey Parmer each scored 14 and Kenya Tomori poured in nine points. Coach Ryuji Kawai’s team was 25-for-33 at the foul line, getting a significant number of points with the clock stopped.

When it was over, Dixon dished out this insight via Facebook: “Good win today. My body is tired.”

Naoto Kosuge scored a team-best 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field for Ryukyu (25-7). Narito Namizato had 17 points and nine assists and Jeff Newton added 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Dillion Sneed scored 14 points and Anthony McHenry, a 2010-11 Best Five member, had 13 points and 11 boards.

Grouses 91, Rizing 82

In Toyama, Brian Harper had 29 points, Ira Brown pumped in 17 and Masashi Joho and Devin Searcy each scored 15 as the Grouses avenged Saturday’s defeat.

Searcy had his fourth consecutive double-double, adding 18 rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots for Toyama (16-14). Joho, meanwhile, played all 40 minutes and made five steals.

Carlos Dixon scored 28 points and Kevin Palmer and Gary Hamilton each had 14 for the Rizing (20-12), who are 1-1 under new head coach Atsushi Kanazawa, who replaced Tadaharu Ogawa earlier in the week. Hamilton hauled in 11 rebounds and Jermaine Dearman and Jun Nakanishi had nine points apiece.

The Rizing shot 15-for-27 at the free-throw line and committed 18 turnovers. Guard Akitomo Takeno missed the series due to influenza, a team spokesman confirmed on Sunday night.

Broncos 78, Shining Suns 73

In Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, John Flowers found his shooting touch from 3-point range (6-for-13) and scored a game-best 37 points as the Broncos salvaged a series split.
Jayme Miller had 19 points and 19 boards for Saitama (9-21).

After Saturday’s defeat, Broncos coach Natalie Nakase told The Japan Times, “Tomorrow we need to maintain our energy and give maximum effort on defense to beat Miyazaki.”

That plan worked.

Darryl Dora led Miyazaki (14-18) with 14 points, Dexter Lyons scored 13, Lewis Witcher had 11 and Tsubasa Yonezawa scored nine.

Lakestars 80, Hannaryz 69

In Kyoto, Ray Nixon had 14 points and Yu Okada, Julius Ashby and Dionisio Gomez all scored 13 as Shiga improved to 19-13.

Shinya Ogawa added 11 points for the Lakestars, who benefited from Okada’s 7-for-8 free-throw shooting and Ashby’s 7-for-9.

Jermaine Boyette paced Kyoto (21-9) with 18 points. Naoto Nakamura and Yusuke Inoue each scored eight and Taizo Kawabe had seven points. Center Lance Allred, who had five points and five rebounds, fouled out.

HeatDevils 89, Jets 72

In Oita, the HeatDevils cruised past Chiba to pick up their 10th win of the season.

Wendell White had 18 points, 14 rebounds and four assists and T.J. Cummings chipped in with 18 points and 13 rebounds for Oita (10-22, eighth place in the West). Naoto Takushi added 15 points, nine assists and seven boards, Taj Finger scored 14 points and Matt Lottich had a 12-point effort with five assists for Oita. Manabu Umemiya dished out four assists, and was one of four HeatDevils with four or more assists.

Jamel Staten was Chiba’s top scorer with a 23-point afternoon, Shota Isshiki had a season-high 12 points and Takaki Ishida and Gaston Moliva each scored nine points. Moliva pulled down 12 rebounds for the Jets (12-18), who face Fukuoka and Shiga on the road over the next two weekends before returning home to play Shinshu on March 4-5.

Albirex BB 86, Big Bulls 60

In Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, Chris Holm, rebounder extraordinaire, grabbed 22 boards and scored 13 points as Niigata routed the hosts.
Kimitake Sato had 14 points, Erron Maxey scored 12, Nile Murry added 11 points and five assists and Dwight Gordon scored 10 for the Albirex (17-15 overall, 8-8 road).

Niigata took control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring Iwate 24-6 to take a 25-point advantage into the fourth quarter.

Holm, who leads the league with 14.6 rebounds per game, helped the Albirex overwhelm the Big Bulls in the rebounding department (59-31).

Thomas Kennedy led Iwate (9-23) with 14 points, Shawn Malloy had 12 with eight rebounds and Jamal Boykin also scored 12, while Makoto Sawaguchi scored eight points and dished out four assists.

Northern Happinets 83, 89ers 72

In Akita, forward Kyle Swanston scored 23 points, Yuki Kikuchi drained five 3s en route to 22 points and the Happinets improved to 19-13.

E.J. Drayton added 15 points and Mychal Kearse scored 12 for Akita, which lost the series opener to former coach Bob Pierce’s squad. Happinets forward Ricky Woods sat out the game after getting injured on a fast break early in Saturday’s game

Dan Fitzgerald was the top scorer for Sendai (16-16), putting 28 points on the board. Johnny Dukes scored 11, Filip Toncinic had seven points and nine boards and Takehiko Shimura had 10 assists in defeat.

After the game, Pierce was disgusted by his team’s performance.

“Only Dan displayed any real passion, most guys acted like the game should be easy without Woods playing,” Pierce told The Japan Times. “Akita made 12 3s, but they missed 26. Overall they missed 44 shots, but grabbed 24 offensive rebounds.

“Dan scored 10 in the fourth quarter and we cut a 13-point deficit to one (72-71)…”

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Do you have a story idea about the bj-league? Send an email to edward.odeven@japantimes.co.jp