Head coach Bill Cartwright has orchestrated a remarkable turnaround for the Osaka Evessa basketball team.
Taking over a team that was 5-19 when he was hired on Jan. 21, the Evessa are now only five games below .500. They won their 10th straight game on Saturday, bulldozing the hapless Akita Northern Happinets in an 86-51 decision in Kishiwada, Osaka Prefecture.
Ten Evessa players put points on the board in the series opener, with Dwayne Lathan leading the way with a 20-point performance. Mike Bell added 12 poitns and a game-high 16 rebounds. Taizo Kawabe scored 10 points, Shota Konno had nine, Rick Rickert added eight points with 11 boards for Osaka (20-25). Nathan Walkup also scored eight points and Satoshi Takeda had seven. Masashi Obuchi dished out eight assists with no turnovers.
Osaka outmuscled and outhustled Akita in the rebounding department, grabbing 61 boards and holding the visitors to 30.
The struggling Happinets (22-23) are among the league’s worst-rebounding clubs. (In their past three games, including last week’s two losses to the Sendai 89ers, they’ve been out-rebounded by a stunning 91 boards.)
Shigehiro Taguchi led the run-and-gun Akita attack with 20 points and drained 6 of 12 3-pointers. Dion Harris had 11 points. Harris and backcourt mate Yuki Togashi shot a combined 2-for-17 on 3s. The Happinets were 10-for-41 from beyond the arc and settled for long-range shots for most of the game. They only attempted 25 shots from 2-point range. Overall, they were 18-for-66 from the field.
Osaka’s last loss was on March 2, a 98-83 home defeat to the Saitama Broncos.
Susanoo Magic 92, Big Bulls 79
In Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, two-time All-Star MVP Michael Parker had 24 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and four steals to ignite the hosts in a well-rounded win over Iwate.
Brandon Freeman added 17 points for Shimane, which had six double-digit scorers.
Jeral Davis supplied 15 points and six blocked shots as the Magic (31-16) snapped a three-game skid. Tatsuhiro Yokoo and Koki Yabuuchi each had 11 points and Kazuya “J.” Hatano scored 10 off the bench.
Shimane had 23 assists on the afternoon and held Iwate (28-17) to 10.
Carlos Dixon paced the Big Bulls with 22 points and Dillion Sneed scored 18. Masato Tsukino had a 16-point effort and Reggie Okosa scored 13.
Sneed, the league’s worst free-throw shooter (36.1 percent), was 2-for-10 at the line. As a team, Iwate was 13-for-25 at the line; Shimane shot 19-for-25.
Since a 0-for-17 free-throw shooting performance on March 10, Sneed is 16-for-53 at the line in the past five games.
“We started bad because the game was very important and (we had) big stress,” admitted Susanoo Magic coach Zeljko Pavlicevic in a post-game interview with The Japan Times. “But minute by minute in the second half we stuck with our game plan … and it was a big, big victory for us.”
Grouses 82, Jets 74
In Chiba, Jeremy Jacob and Ira Brown notched double-doubles as Toyama beat the injury-plagued hosts.
Jacob had 21 points and 13 rebounds. Brown contributed 18 points and 11 boards. Masashi Joho poured in 14 points. Takeshi Mito had 11 for the Grouses, who improved to 30-15.
Marquise Gray paced Chiba (23-22) with 30 points and 18 rebounds, and D’Andre Bell had 25 points, knocking down 4 of 7 3-pointers at Chiba Port Arena.
Jets frontcourt standouts Joe Werner and Marquin Chandler were sidelined with injuries. They are averaging a combined 40.4 points per game.
Hannaryz 86, Cinq Reves 80
In Koganei, Tokyo, former NBA big man Marcus Cousin socred a team-high 22 points on 11-for-13 shooting and hauled in 11 rebounds as Kyoto topped the hosts and picked up their fifth victory in the past six games.
Masaharu Kataoka added 17 points and Yu Okada, Jermaine Boyette and David Palmer all scored 11 points apiece for the Hannaryz (25-20).
Kyoto made 30 of 49 shots from inside the arc and had 19 assists in an efficient offensive performance.
Hannaryz coach Honoo Hamaguchi’s club led 44-29 at halftime.
Ricky Woods was Tokyo’s top scorer with 29 points and Jonathan Jones had 17. Cohey Aoki and Hirohisa Takada both scored 11 for the Cinq Reves (15-30).
Lakestars 95, 89ers 83
In Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture, the hosts finished with only seven turnovers in a solid victory over Sendai.
Shelton Colwell scored 28 points and raked in 13 rebounds and Dionisio Gomez contributed 23 points, 11 boards and three blocks for the Lakestars (27-18). Yutaka Yokoe sank five 3s in a 19-point outing, Wayne Arnold had seven points and Jumpei Nakama added six points, four rebounds, three steals, two assists and a blocked shot.
For the 89ers (18-27), T.J. Cummings was the top scorer with 23 points, Takuya Komoda had 15 and Sam Willard chipped in with nine points and 14 rebounds. Hikaru Kusaka scored eight points and handed out a team-high five assists.
Broncos 111, Crane Thunders 93
In Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, in a wild, high-tempo game, Saitama routed the hosts.
The teams combined for 92 3-point shots, with Saitama draining 13 of 35 and Gunma connecting on 16 of 57.
Masahide Haraguchi led the Broncos with 28 points, including 6-for-11 on 3-pointers. John Humphrey had 21 points, 16 rebounds and six assists for Saitama (12-33). Yuki Kitamuki scored 25 points and buried 5 of 15 3s. He was 10-for-28 from the field with six assists. Nyika Williams added 15 points and 21 rebounds and Wayne Oliver scored eight points.
The Crane Thunders (12-33) trailed 41-18 after the opening quarter, then cut the deficit to 54-40 at halftime.
Dominique Keller had a team-high 31 points for Gunma, including 7-for-15 from beyond the arc. Yuto Okumoto had 18 points and Jermaine Dixon, coming off back-to-back 33-point games, scored 17. Dixon was 3-for-16 from long range.
Albirex BB 83, Phoenix 79 (OT)
In Niigata, Nile Murry scored 32 points and Chris Holm pulled down 20 rebounds as the Albirex prevailed over Hamamatsu Higashimikawa.
Murry made 13 of 16 free throws and shot 80 percent (8-for-10) from inside the arc on a day when his outside shot was not falling (he finished 1-for-8 on 3s). Murry supplied nine boards, five assists and three steals and led Niigata in court time (40 minutes, 19 seconds). Rodney Webb added 13 points and 10 rebounds and Kimitake Sato scored 13 points for Niigata (31-14).
Atsuya Ota and Kevin Galloway both had 17 points for the Phoenix (25-20), the latter adding 18 rebounds and seven assists. Shoji Nakanishi scored 16 points and Jeffrey Parmer had 11.
HeatDevils 84, Shining Suns 69
In Oita, P.J. Alawoya had 29 points and 15 rebounds and Thomas Granado followed suit with 13 points and 13 boards as the HeatDevils rolled to their sixth straight victory.
Verdell Jones III and Manabu Umemiya both scored 12 points for Oita (19-28).
For Miyazaki (9-38), Yuto Otsuka had a game-best 31 points. He canned six 3-pointers on the night.
Five Arrows 88, B-Corsairs 79
In Zentsuji, Kagawa Prefecture, Yokohama’s Big Three had a solid game, but Takamatsu effectively limited the rest of its foe’s options on offense to win the series opener.
Thomas Kennedy and Masayuki Kabaya both scored 22 points and Draelon Burns had 20 for the B-Corsairs (30-15), while the rest of the squad had 15 points. Shawn Malloy finished with eight points and seven boards in the loss.
Daisuke Tamura led the Five Arrows (19-28) with 20 points and Dexter Lyons had 19 points and seven assists. Lyons also made four steals.
Paul Williams and Masaaki Suzuki added 10 points apiece for Takamatsu.
Rizing 65, Golden Kings 64
In Fukuoka, Josh Peppers, a professional scorer, did what he does best to guide the hosts to a victory over the defending champions.
Peppers led all scorers with 21 points on 8-for-16 shooting with seven rebounds and three steals. Reggie Warren scored 14 points and grabbed 19 rebounds for his league-high 38th double-double of the season. Julius Ashby provided eight points, nine boards, six blocks and five assists in the triumph and Akitomo Takeno had seven points and dished out five assists for the Rizing (31-16).
Anthony McHenry scored 18 points and had 10 rebounds for Ryukyu (35-10) and Narito Namizato had 15 points. Naoto Kosuge and Terrance Woodbury each had nine points.
The Golden Kings shot 23-for-68 from the field.