The Akita Northern Happinets climbed back into first place by completing a weekend sweep of the Toyama Grouses on Sunday.
Coach Kazuo Nakamura’s club defeated Toyama 73-58 in the teams’ final game of the 2011-12 bj-league season’s first half. The sixth annual All-Star Game will be held next Sunday at Saitama Super Arena.
E.J. Drayton and Curtis Terry scored 18 points apiece to lead Akita (15-9, tied for first with the Niigata Albirex BB), Ricky Woods had 15 points with 12 rebounds and Kazuhiro Shoji added 13 points and buried 4 of 7 long-range shots. Ryosuke Mizumachi dished out six assists, and the Happinets improved to 8-6 at home.
Drayton contributed four blocked shots and two steals in Akita’s solid all-around win.
Toyama (10-12) had a bad shooting afternoon, making 23 of 70 shots from the field, including 4-for-19 on 3-point attempts. The Grouses also missed 10 of 18 foul shots, and made 17 turnovers.
Devin Searcy and Brian Harper each scored 12 points for Toyama and Masashi Joho had 10.
Hannaryz 87, 89ers 74
In Sendai, after seeing its 12-game winning streak halted on Saturday, Kyoto bounced back with a victory in the series finale.
Hannaryz coach Honoo Hamaguchi’s club won the battle on the boards (52-28 overall rebounding edge) and cleaned the glass for 23 offensive boards to Sendai’s 10.
“The key to this one was offensive rebounds,” Sendai coach Bob Pierce said.
For Kyoto (16-6), Rick Rickert was the leading scorer (18 points). Lance Allred had 14 points and 13 boards, Naoto Nakamura scored 11 points, Jermaine Boyette had 10, Babacar Camara had nine, Sunao Murakami added eight and Kyosuke Setoyama seven.
The 89ers (12-12) were called for 27 fouls to the Hannaryz’s 13. Rickert and newcomer Filip Toncinic both fouled out.
“Foul trouble plagued us the entire game,” Pierce said.
Dan Fitzgerald scored a team-high 23 points for Sendai, Johnny Dukes had 17 points and five assists, Toncinic added 16 points and 4-for-7 shooting from 3-point range and Takehiko Shimura orchestrated the offense (nine assists and zero turnovers).
“We had an amazing stretch where we played great defense,” Pierce said, “came back from nine points down in the fourth quarter, then took brief leads of 68-66 (and) 70-68. But it seemed that on about the next three possessions Kyoto would miss but then score on the offensive rebound. We missed some open looks, and the game got away.”
Evessa 75, Five Arrows 62
In Takamatsu, fan favorite Cohey Aoki put on a shooting clinic in Osaka’s win over the lowly Five Arrows.
Aoki made 8 of 9 shots from the field — his lone miss was one of his four 3-point attempts — and both of his shots from the charity stripe in a 21-point performance for the Evessa (17-5). Lynn Washington provided 18 points, 10 boards and four assists and Lavell Payne scored eight points for Osaka. Lawrence Blackledge and Masashi Obuchi each had seven.
Kevin Smith paced Takamatsu (1-23) with 17 points and seven steals, while Michael Nunnally had 14 points.
“We played a pretty good game overall,” Osaka coach Ryan Blackwell said. “Cohey and Lynn paced us offensively. Our zone defense was really good today, and had we not turned the ball over 21 times, we would’ve scored more points, which is one area we need to improve on.”
Albirex BB 94, Shining Suns 80
In Miyazaki, Erron Maxey scored 23 points, Nile Murry had 20 and Niigata recorded a series split.
Niigata (15-9) made 13 steals, while matching Akita for the most wins in the East entering the break. Murry had a team-high four steals. Chris Holm added 18 points and 13 boards, Yuichi Ikeda scored 14 and Shuhei Komatsu 10.
Holm, the league’s top rebounder at 14.5 per game, had five offensive boards, getting five or more for the 13th time this season. He also notched his 14th double-double.
Dexter Lyons led Miyazaki (12-14) with 22 points and Lewis Witcher poured in 13.
Brave Warriors 85, Big Bulls 67
In Nagano, Lee Roberts had 22 points and Edward Morris scored 14 as Shinshu swept rival first-season club Iwate.
Derek Raivio and Takato Saito added 12 points apiece for the Brave Warriors (11-13). Shinshu shot 28-for-50 from inside the arc and 7-for-15 on 3-point attempts.
The Big Bulls (7-19) were 24-for-70 from the field and a dismal 15-for-29 at the line. Thomas Kennedy led Iwate with 31 points, Gordon Klaiber had 11 and Yoshiaki Yamamoto handed out six assists.
Lakestars 79, Susanoo Magic 64
In Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, Dionisio Gomez’s 22-point, 10-rebound effort led Shiga to a bounce-back triumph in the series finale.
Ray Nixon scored 17 points for the Lakestars (16-8), Josh Peppers had 16, Yu Okada added 13 with six assists and four steals and Shinya Ogawa scored seven points.
Reggie Golson paced Shimane (13-11) with 18 points, Michael Parker scored 17 and B.J. Puckett had 14. Magic point guard Edward Yamamoto had a tough afternoon (five turnovers, one assist).
B-Corsairs update: A day after his team beat the visiting Saitama Broncos for the second time in as many days, Yokohama B-Corsairs coach Reggie Geary told The Japan Times, “We’re very happy about this weekend’s sweep of Saitama. We feel as a team we’re improving and that has been reflected in us winning four of our last six.
“Our inside play of Justin Burrell and Chas McFarland has been at a good level, and contributions from Kaba (Masayuki Kabaya), Kim (Minoru Kimura) and Kenji (Yamada), along with our entire bench have been much needed.”
Looking ahead to the week off, Geary added, “This All-Star break comes at a good time for us to heal up and get in some good practice before facing a tough road challenge in Niigata when we return to action.”