SAITAMA – Sometimes, the best players need to demand the ball.
Lynn Washington employed that wise tactic on Sunday, scoring 29 of his game-high 38 points after halftime in a vintage performance that propelled the Osaka Evessa to a 94-84 overtime triumph over the Saitama Broncos.
The former Indiana University standout drilled a straight-away 3-pointer and was fouled in the act of shooting with 7.6 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Washington’s free throw tied it at 77-77 and forced overtime.
Washington made 4 of 5 3-point attempts, and was 8-for-11 at the line. The two-time MVP had nine rebounds and five assists.
In overtime, Saitama star John “Helicopter” Humphrey sank two free throws at the 3:06 mark to make it 83-83, but the Evessa closed it out on an 11-1 run to pick up the win, raising their record to 24-8.
The Broncos, one of the league’s original teams, fell to 9-23. They are tied with the expansion Iwate Big Bulls for the fewest wins in the 10-team Eastern Conference.
“He was a little bit upset with me because he wanted the ball a little bit more in the second quarter, and rightfully so,” Evessa coach Ryan Blackwell said of Washington. “I just wanted a little bit more ball movement. . . . He took it upon himself to be more aggressive, and we made sure we got him the ball.”
Osaka center Wayne Marshall, a Temple University product, played one of his best overall games in an Evessa uniform, with 17 points, 10 rebounds, six blocked shots and three steals. Guards Masashi Obuchi and Shota Konno scored 14 and eight points, respectively. Mike Bell grabbed 11 boards for Osaka and Obuchi dished out seven assists with zero turnovers. Backup point guard Kevin Tyner had four points and four assists in 7:49.
“We did a good job overall of sticking together, and guys stepped up,” Blackwell said. “Kevin came in and made some big plays, and Obuchi played a great game and Shota played great, so it was an overall team effort.
“And Lynn obviously led us today and did a good job, and showed why he’s one of the best players in this league.”
Said Broncos coach Natalie Nakase, “We all know when you’re facing the Osaka Evessa you’re facing Lynn Washington . . . but we did key in on him. We put our best defensive player (John Flowers); we felt that John could hold him one-on-one. . . . It was a great battle.”
Humphrey played all 45 minutes and had team-high totals in points (26), rebounds (15) and assists (six). Flowers scored 16 points, Yasuaki Arai had 12 and Yuki Kitamuki scored 11.
“I thought the guys played their hearts out,” Nakase said, praising them for making a number of difficult tough shots throughout the contest against a strong defensive team.
After winning with ease in the series opener at Saitama Municipal Gymnasium, the scrappy, hustling Broncos gave a valiant effort in the rematch, but were plagued by foul trouble; Jayme Miller, Flowers and James Porter all fouled out. League assist leader Kenny Satterfield, who sat out the series opener, entered the game for the first time in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, as Nakase opted not to play him earlier.
“This was a key win for us because we have to keep pace with Okinawa and Kyoto is on our heels as well. All remaining games are key,” Washington said, referring to the Western Conference-leading Ryukyu Golden Kings and third-place Hannaryz.
Humphrey and Kitamuki were inserted into the starting lineup on Sunday after both came off the bench in the opener. The former’s play energized his team throughout the contest, Blackwell said.
Saitama led 41-35 at halftime.
Golden Kings 82, B-Corsairs 79
In Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, Anthony McHenry, Jeff Newton and Narito Namizato scored 17 points apiece and the hosts edged Yokohama to complete a series sweep.
The Golden Kings improved to 27-7 overall, 13-3 at home.
Justin Burrell finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds for the B-Corsairs (17-15) and Masayuki Kabaya scored 13 points.
“The whole weekend we battled from behind against a good Okinawa team,” Yokohama coach Reggie Geary told The Japan Times. “Their overall team size, ability to shoot the 3-point shot and the play of point guard Namizato make them very tough. When you also take into account the great home support they receive (3,301 fans on Sunday), you can see how they’ve established such a good record this season.”
Geary said his team played a bad first quarter, and the B-Corsairs entered the second stanza trailing 29-15.
“We showed once again we’re a playoff-caliber team by playing and executing at a high level vs. the league’s best.”
Yokohama tied it at 59-59 at the end of the third quarter. But too many Yokohama mistakes and the Golden Kings’ 17 fourth-quarter free throws to the B-Corsairs’ two proved to be deciding factors.
Susanoo Magic 82, Big Bulls 64
In Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, Michael Parker had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Jeral Davis flirted with a triple-double and Edward Yamamoto scored 15 points and handed out six assists as the hosts cruised past Iwate.
Davis contributed 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks for the Magic (19-15), who won for the second time in as many days.
For Iwate (9-25), Jamal Boykin had 16 points and 14 boards, Thomas Kennedy scored 15 and Gordon Klaiber added 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Northern Happinets 80, Five Arrows 67
In Takamatsu, the Five Arrows’ nightmare season featured another lopsided loss in the series finale.
Kyle Swanston poured in 25 points for Akita (21-13) and E.J. Drayton chipped in with 15 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
Takamatsu (2-28), which dropped a 23-point decision on Saturday, shot 1-for-13 from 3-point range. Paul Butorac led the Five Arrows with 16 points.
Phoenix 91, Shining Suns 74
In Miyakonojo, Miyazaki Prefecture, Jermaine Dixon scored 21 points and Gyno Pomare supplied 14 points and 14 rebounds for Hamamatsu Higashimikawa as the two-time defending champions bounced back from an 11-point loss on Saturday.
Wayne Arnold had 13 points and Masahiro Oguchi scored nine for the Phoenix (22-12).
O’Neal Mims was Miyazaki’s leading scorer (15 points), Shinnosuke Oishi had 14 and Tsubasa Yonezawa added 13 for the Shining Suns (15-19). Miyazaki was 20-for-34 at the free-throw line in defeat.
Grouses 100, Lakestars 65
In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Toyama’s offense was unstoppable after halftime, erupting for 61 second-half points in the rout.
Ira Brown had a team-high 24 points for the Grouses (17-15), Brian Harper scored 19, Takeshi Mito had 16, Larry Turner added 15 points and 16 boards and Masashi Joho had a 14-point afternoon.
Shiga, which won the opener on a buzzer-beater, slipped to 20-14. Ray Nixon led the Lakestars with 18 points, Bryant Markson scored 13 and Dionisio Gomez had 10.
Albirex 88, HeatDevils 77
In Gosen, Niigata Prefecture, Nile Murry scored 19 points and Shuhei Komatsu canned four 3-pointers in a 15-point outing as the Albirex salvaged a split.
For Oita (11-23), T.J. Cummings scored 31 points and Taj Finger and Matt Lottich each had 14.
Niigata improved to 18-16, good for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Hannaryz 98, Brave Warriors 84
In Ina, Nagano Prefecture, Rick Rickert’s 29-point, 12-rebound effort and Jermaine Boyette’s 23 points guided Kyoto to a win over Shinshu.
Lee Cummard had 14 points and 10 boards, while Naoto Nakamura was 4-for-4 from 3-point range and scored 13 points for the Hannaryz (22-10). Center Lance Allred missed his second consecutive game due to back spasms.
Derek Raivio gave the Brave Warriors a 27-point performance, including 10-for-10 at the foul line. Teammate Lee Roberts had 18 points.
Rizing 83, Jets 72
In Fukuoka, Carlos Dixon led the hosts with 21 points and Jermaine Dearman contributed 20 points and 13 rebounds in a victory over Chiba.
Kevin Palmer scored 16 points and Jun Nakanishi had 15 for the Rizing (22-12).
Chiba’s Jamel Staten had 22 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Maurice Hargrow and Takaki Ishida added 14 points apiece.
The Jets (12-20) shot 2-for-21 from beyond the arc, including Hargrow’s 0-for-7.