EBINA, KANAGAWA PREF. – The Yokohama B-Corsairs controlled the tempo in crunch time and dominated key stretches of a 79-68 victory over the Sendai 89ers on Friday night in the bj-league.
The B-Corsairs relied on their Big Three — Draelon Burns, Thomas Kennedy and Masayuki Kabaya — to win the series opener, getting a combined 64 points from them on Thursday.
A day later, Kennedy had 23 points, Burns had 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to complete a triple-double, while Kabaya scored 17. All three had two steals.
T.J. Cummings paced Sendai with 22 points and 10 rebounds and Takehiko Shimura had 14 points.
B-Corsairs coach Reggie Geary, in his second season at the helm, was pleased with his team’s effort, defensive tenacity and focus in the fourth quarter, when the visitors could not keep pace with the victors in terms of big plays and productivity.
“Obviously, the play of our Big Three, they were their usual good selves, and have been,” Geary said.
“. . . They’ve led us for the better part of the season.”
Sendai coach Bob Pierce’s team was outscored 28-17 in the fourth quarter.
“I expect more from these guys,” Pierce said, adding physical toughness was lacking for his team in the final minutes.
Yokohama pulled away gradually as the fourth quarter marched on and led 66-55 near the 4-minute mark.
“We grinded it out,” Kennedy said,
Burns called the game a good learning experience for the B-Corsairs.
“We got it together in the fourth,” he added.
The Thursday formula for success, in a game staged in Hiratsuka, worked again for the B-Corsairs, now 12-6.
Kennedy and Kabaya each had 10 points in the first half. Kabaya, who scored 28 and dropped six 3s through the basket in the hosts’ Thursday win, was 3-for-3 from long range in the opening half at Ebina Sports Park Gymnasium.
Sendai trailed 37-30 at halftime.
The B-Corsairs, led by the energetic tandem of Kennedy and Burns, closed out the half on an 8-2 run.
Burns, who led the team with 20.7 points per game entering the series, has come off the bench in all but five games for Yokohama.
His passing and excursions through traffic opened things up for his teammates.
The 89ers stayed hungry and closed out the third with it even at 51-51 after a Kevin Coble converted layup.
Sendai was effective inside in the third quarter, making 8 of 10 shots from inside the arc, including Cummings’ 4 of 5, to find its offensive rhythm.
The 89ers fell to 5-12.
After the game, Kennedy said his team “really showed toughness and heart in the game.”
Geary made similar comments after the club’s fourth straight triumph.