Since playing his first game for the then-expansion Toyama Grouses in 2006, Nile Murry has been one of the bj-league’s best all-around players.
The hard-working backcourt leader made an impact for the Grouses and then for the Evessa (2008-10) and Rizing Fukuoka (2010-11) before he joined Niigata in 2011.
Murry delivered a splendid performance in the series finale against Toyama on Sunday in Toyama, scoring a game-high 26 points, grabbing seven steals and dishing out five assists. Led by Murry, Niigata handed the Grouses their first loss of the season, 75-71.
The Albirex improved to 6-4 under first-year coach Fujitaka “Bomber” Hiraoka.
Murry was at his best at the free-throw line, where he drained 10 of 11 shots. Teammate Patrick Sullivan, a Southeastern Louisiana product, had 17 points and 20 rebounds. Rodney Webb added 13 points and four steals and Yuichi Ikeda had 12 points for Niigata on the afternoon.
Takeshi Mito paced the Grouses with 23 points and Ira Brown had 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists, but also committed seven turnovers. Toyama big man Sam Willard had 13 points and 13 rebounds. Star guard Masashi Joho was held to a season-low seven points on 1-for-12 shooting.
Northern Happinets 98, Broncos 78
In Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, Richard Roby scored a team-high 25 points and four teammates also reached double figures in scoring as Akita rolled to its 10th victory in as many games by trouncing the hosts.
Saitama fell to 2-8 under bench boss Takatoshi Ishibashi, who’s in his first season at the helm.
Shigehiro Taguchi added 16 points, canning 4-for-5 from beyond the 3-point arc. Big man Chas McFarland and guard Yuki Togashi each had 14 points and Ruben Boykin poured in 12.
McFarland corralled 14 rebounds and registered five assists. Boykin grabbed 17 boards to complete the double-double. Togashi dished out six assists for the Eastern Conference-leading Happinets, who controlled the boards with a 59-36 edge in rebounds.
For Saitama, John Humphrey scored a team-high 27 points with 13 boards and five assists. Michael Joiner added 13 points and Shusei Ishii had eight.
Lakestars 81, Evessa 73
In Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, big man Shelton Colwell scored 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting and University of Nevada alum Brandon Fields had 17 as the Lakestars swept Osaka.
Both teams have 6-2 records.
Dionisio Gomez finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds for Shiga and Marshall Brown had 10 points and three steals. Jumpei Nakama added eight points off the bench.
For the Evessa, Kevin Galloway had 27 points, 12 rebounds and five assists and Dillion Sneed contributed 21 points.
Osaka’s poor free-throw shooting (8-for-23) was a major factor in the loss. In addition, Naoto Nakamura was 0-for-7 from 3-point range; as a team, the Evessa shot 3-for-19 from beyond the arc.
Naoto Takushi had 12 points for Osaka, with three assists and five turnovers on the afternoon.
Cinq Reves 95, Brave Warriors 86
In Ueda, Nagano Prefecture, former Shinshu star Edward Morris scored a game-high 29 points and raked in 12 rebounds as Tokyo snapped a six-game losing streak.
Yuji Ide supplied 25 points, including 9-for-10 at the charity stripe, and Ricky Woods scored 21 for the Cinq Reves (2-6). Akihito Inoue had 12 points for Tokyo, which led 42-32 at halftime.
Xavier Gibson and Patrick Sanders, who attended Florida State and University of California-Irvine, respectively, each had 23 points for Shinshu (4-4) and Jeffrey Parmer added 16 points and 12 rebounds. Shota Konno and Masamune Tate chipped in with six points apiece.
Phoenix 80, Five Arrows 65
In Hamamatsu, Deshawn Stephens shot 8-for-9 from the field and put 22 points on the board in 25 electrifying minutes to ignite the hosts in their second win in as many days over Takamatsu.
Jermaine Dixon poured in 15 points with five assists, Ray Nixon scored 12 points, Cyrus Tate had 10 and Atsuya Ota added nine for the Phoenix (6-4), who sank 19 of 23 free throws.
Andrais Thornton led the Five Arrows (2-6) with 18 points. Dexter Lyons contributed 14 points and four steals for Takamatsu and Paul Williams finished with 12 points and 14 boards.
Golden Kings 77, Hannaryz 66
In Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, coach Tsutomu Isa’s squad completed its successful weekend with a second victory over Kyoto while making this statement in the process: The Golden Kings remain one of the league’s elite squads.
Scootie Randall, a Temple University product, had 19 points for Ryukyu (6-2) and Ryuichi Kishimoto poured in 17, with three assists, two steals and one block in nearly 28 minutes of productive court time.
The Kings had across-the-board production, proving again the team’s depth is one of its chief strengths. Anthony McHenry, for instance, was his usual steady self, dropping 11 points on Kyoto (5-3), with seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal for good measure. Big man Kibwe Trim netted nine points and hauled in seven boards and Naoto Kosuge scored eight points. League legend Jeff Newton collected five rebounds and two steals off the bench in 16-plus minutes.
Defensively, the Kings did a stellar job guarding ex-Washington Wizards player Edwin Ubiles, who was held to eight points after a 29-point outburst in the series opener. He also turned the ball over six times.
Chris Holm and Yu Okada led Kyoto with 14 points apiece. Holm added 10 rebounds. Joe Warner scored 12 points for the Hannaryz, who were held to 33 points in both halves.
89ers 96, HeatDevils 74
In Sendai, six 89ers had double-digit scoring efforts and coach Shuto Kawachi’s squad raced out to a 17-point advantage by halftime to salvage a series split against Oita.
Travele Jones paced Sendai (3-7) with 22 points and James Hughes and 23-year-old guard Yasuhiko Wada scored 14 apiece, the latter reaching double digits for the third straight game.
Wendell White contributed 13 points, nine boards, eight assists and four steals and captain Takehiko Shimura also pumped in 13 points along with five assists. Fumiya Sato scored 12 points and Yasuaki Arai had eight.
Sendai knocked down 13 of 22 3s (59.1 percent).
Taishiro Shimizu was Oita’s high scorer with 23 points and Devonne Giles scored 16 points with 11 rebounds. Gabe McCulley added 11 points and Byron Allen had 10 as the HeatDevils slipped to 3-5.
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Noteworthy: Former Shimane Susanoo Magic head coach Zeljko Pavlicevic, who guided the Japan national team at the 2006 FIBA World Basketball Championship, has made a splendid transition to the NBL. Pavlicevic’s Wakayama Trians are 8-2 through Sunday, sitting in second pace in the six-team Western Conference.
The Croatian bench boss’s key players include Michael Parker, who had 24 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks, two steals and two assists in a 98-73 victory over the Kumamoto Volters on Sunday. Parker starred for Shimane until May 2013 before reuniting with Pavlicevic in Wakayama.
Takuya Kawamura also poured in 24 points for Wakayama and ex-Osaka Evessa and Kyoto Hannaryz big man Rick Rickert, a former Minnesota Timberwolves draft pick, had 14 points and 12 boards for the Trians in the rout. …
The Chiba Jets, led by former Yokohama B-Corsairs coach Reggie Geary, are struggling in their first season in the NBL after their defection from the bj-league. The Jets are now 4-8, losers of eight straight games. …
Former Osaka and Hamamatsu star Billy Knight’s Hyogo Storks, meanwhile, are 1-9 in the NBL. The Storks spent the past two seasons in the JBL2, which has been rebranded as the NBDL.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5