In the season’s first 24 games, the Osaka Evessa, the bj-league’s first powerhouse team, collected five victories.
They’ve now played 10 games under new head coach Bill Cartwright. Their record in that span? Five wins and five defeats.
The Evessa snapped a three-game losing streak on Sunday, clamping down defensively in a 69-53 triumph over the host Kyoto Hannaryz in Muko, Kyoto Prefecture.
“We still have lots of stuff to work on,” Cartwright told reporters. “We have good teams to fight and be better next month. We made a step tonight. We double-covered, playing tough and aggressive tonight. “
Osaka (10-24) has lost three games by four points or less since Cartwright took over as head coach on Jan. 20. Four of its victories have been by double digits. Sunday’s win was the team’s largest margin with Cartwright at the helm.
Power forward Mike Bell, a Florida Atlantic product, paced the Evessa with 19 points on 9-for-14 shooting, adding 13 rebounds, four assists and two steals in a quality performance. Nathan Walkup scored 12 points, Rick Rickert had 10 points and nine rebounds, Shun Watanuki poured in nine points and Taizo Kawabe had eight.
The Evessa turned the ball over 16 times, but shot 54.2 percent (26-for-48) from 2-point range.
Osaka held Kyoto (19-17) to 0-for-11 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc, including Masaharu Kataoka’s 0-for-4 and David Palmer’s 0-for-3. Palmer led the Hannaryz with 17 points, and Jermaine Boyette and Gyno Pomare each had nine.
The Evessa controlled the fourth quarter, holding the hosts to five points and scoring 16. Osaka also held a 41-28 edge in rebounds.
After the game, Kyoto coach Honoo Hamaguchi could not hide his disgust in the team’s performance.
“It was the worst game of this season for us,” Hamaguchi said.
Looking ahead, the Evessa have a busy month in March with 10 games on their schedule: at home against Saitama, at Fukuoka, home against Shinshu, at Sendai and at Miyazaki. Of those five foes, only the Rizing have a winning record through Sunday.
Golden Kings 78, Phoenix 69
In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, Ryukyu held Hamamatsu Higashimikawa to 34 percent shooting (27-for-79) and picked up its second win in as many days.
Jeff Newton had 18 points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocks for the defending champions. Anthony McHenry and Terrance Woodbury each scored 15 points for the Golden Kings (26-8).
An active, opportunistic Ryukyu defense forced Hamamatsu into making 16 turnovers (eight by Kevin Galloway). The Kings made 11 steals and blocked seven shots, including McHenry’s four; Newton rejected two and Naoto Kosuge added one.
Narito Namizato filled the stat sheet with 11 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals, and Kosuge scored eight points.
Ryukyu (26-8 overall, 11-5 on the road) overcame a 45-32 halftime deficit before a rowdy crowd of 3,085. The Golden Kings seized control in the third quarter, outscoring the hosts 25-14 and limiting their output to 10 points in the final quarter.
Twenty-four personal fouls were called against Hamamatsu; Ryukyu was whistled for nine.
B-Corsairs 75, Big Bulls 62
In Takizawa, Iwate Prefecture, post players Pape Faye Mour and Shawn Malloy combined for 32 points and 23 rebounds and Yokohama’s effective all-around effort spelled trouble for the hosts.
The B-Corsairs (25-9, .735 winning percentage, tops in the Eastern Conference) took a 44-31 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Iwate played without standout forwards Carlos Dixon (suspension) and Lawrence Blackledge (undisclosed injury).
Masayuki Kabaya and Thomas Kennedy scored 17 and 16 points, respectively, for Yokohama, which forced Iwate playmaker Reggie Okosa into making eight turnovers.
Okosa paced the Big Bulls, who pummeled the B-Corsairs by 24 points in the series opener, with 20 points and 10 rebounds and Dillion Sneed had 16 points, nine boards and three blocks. Kenichi Takahashi and Masato Tsukino each scored 12 points for Iwate, which was 23-for-61 from the field.
Susanoo Magic 75, HeatDevils 61
In Usa, Oita Prefecture, Jeral Davis scored 16 points, including three slam dunks, and four teammates also reached double figures in points as Shimane completed a two-game sweep over the hosts.
B.J Puckett added 14 points, Michael Parker had 12 with nine rebounds, Brandon Freeman also had 12 and Edward Yamamoto provided 11 points, eight boards and eight assists for the Magic (25-11).
Davis swatted four shots, and Oita (11-25) was held to 25-for-71 from the field.
Thomas Granado was the HeatDevils’ top scorer with 16 points and P.J. Alawoya chipped in with 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals.
After a 9-4 start this season, Oita has lost 21 of its past 23 games.
Five Arrows 93, Lakestars 80
In Takamatsu, Paul Williams had 27 points and 19 rebounds and Dexter Lyons went 10-for-10 at the free-throw line and scored 22 points as the Five Arrows bounced back from a Saturday defeat to Shiga.
Williams was 12-for-15 from the field and blocked three shots. Brandon Penn and Hiroyuki Kikuchi each had 10 points for Takamatsu (14-22).
Coming off a 2-50 season, the Five Arrows, led by second-year coach Kenzo Maeda, are within striking distance of earning a playoff spot. They are in seventh place in the Western Conference, five wins behind the Hannaryz. The top six teams in each conference advance to postseason play.
Dionisio Gomez paced the Lakestars (22-14) with 23 points and Ray Nixon had 13. Takamichi Fujiwara and Shelton Colwell both finished with 12.
Nixon and teammate Yutaka Yokoe both fouled out.
Grouses 81, Albirex BB 75
In Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture, Takeshi Mito scored 19 points and Masashi Joho and Ira Brown each added 18 to lead Toyama past the hosts.
Brown grabbed 11 rebounds to complete the double-double and blocked three shots for the Grouses (23-13), who are 10-6 in away contests.
Toyama’s frequent trips to the charity stripe played a factor in the game, with the Grouses converting 15 of 23 while the Albirex made 8 of 12.
Niigata trailed 38-32 at halftime.
Hirotaka Kondo and Nile Murry led the Albirex with 15 points apiece and Kimitake Sato scored 14. Chris Holm had eight points and seven rebounds.
Niigata (26-10) shot 11-for-22 from beyond the arc.
Northern Happinets 79, Jets 77
In Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, Marshall Brown had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Akita eked out a win over the Jets to complete a series sweep.
The Happinets (19-15) won the two games by a combined five points.
Mike Anderson scored 18 points and rookie point guard Yuki Togashi had 13 points. The 19-year-old Togashi is averaging 11 points in eight games with the club.
Marquin Chandler finished with 35 points, 13 boards and five assists for Chiba (18-16), Joe Werner added 18 points and 12 rebounds and Kensuke Tanaka had 10 points and seven assists.
Cinq Reves 78, Brave Warriors 69
In Tokyo, Ricky Woods’ 33-point, 14-rebound, four-assist performance guided the expansion Cinq Reves to a bounce-back win over Shinshu.
Jonathan Jones chipped in with 18 points, Cohey Aoki scored 12 and Akihito Inoue nine for Tokyo (12-22).
Despite going 0-for-6 from the field, former University of Kentucky big man Jared Carter had a big impact in other facets of the game — 13 rebounds (six offensive boards) and two blocks in 19 minutes for the Cinq Reves, who played before an announced crowd of 608. Tokyo, meanwhile, out-rebounded the visitors 53-37 and hauled in 23 off the offensive glass.
The Brave Warriors (16-20) missed 14 of 15 shots from 3-point range. Edward Morris paced Shinshu with 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting and Michael Fey had 12 points. Ex-Tokyo Apache guard Takanori Goya dished out six assists and scored six points.
Rizing 77, Shining Suns 63
In Fukuoka, Reggie Warren sank four 3-pointers in a 22-point afternoon and the hosts swept lowly Miyazaki.
Josh Peppers poured in 14 points, Julius Ashby had 11, Jun Nakanishi scored nine, Satoshi Ishitani supplied eight and Akitomo Takeno had seven with five assists.
The Rizing improved to 13-5 at home, 24-12 overall. The Shining Suns fell to a league-worst 5-31.
For Miyazaki, Yuto Otsuka was the top scorer with 17 points.
Little time to rest: During the Saitama Broncos’ season-best winning streak, which reached three games on Friday, guard Yuki Kitamuki has played at a high level. He had 30 points, draining 8 of 12 3-pointers, with nine assists in the aforementioned victory over the Sendai 89ers.
Kitamuki has started all 34 games this season for the Broncos, averaging 38.3 minutes per game.
The 27-year-old, scoring a career-high 14.8 points per game, had nine points, seven assists and two steals in the Thursday contest against Sendai, and contributed 12 points, six rebounds and eight helpers in a home win over the Gunma Crane Thunders on Feb. 17.
Back in action: The 89ers (13-21) play host to the Crane Thunders (8-26) on Monday and Tuesday at Sendai Aoba Gymnasium. The series marks general manager Takeo Mabashi’s debut as acting head coach. Bench boss Bob Pierce was fired on Saturday.
Meanwhile, a league source predicted on Sunday that ex-89ers and Evessa forward Ryan Blackwell, the current Gunma coach, could become Sendai’s new coach next season.
Blackwell took Osaka to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons (2010-11 and 2011-12) and compiled a 67-35 regular-season record. His contract was not renewed by Evessa management after last season.
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