The high-scoring Akita Northern Happinets met their match on Saturday night.
The Iwate Big Bulls held Akita to 4-for-28 shooting from 3-point range, which was a key factor in the hosts’ 85-70 triumph over the previously unbeaten Happinets.
Akita (12-1) sits atop the Eastern Conference standings; Iwate (7-4) picked up a statement victory in the first meeting between the Tohoku rivals this season.
Coach Dai Oketani’s Big Bulls played tight defense on Akita’s perimeter scorers and were tenacious in their defensive rotations as well. They did a stellar job on Yuki Togashi, the league’s October MVP, holding him to 3-for-11 shooting from beyond the arc in a quiet 15-point performance. He had six assists and four turnovers.
Chas McFarland led Akita with 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Richard Roby scored 14 points and Ruben Boykin had 12 points and 18 boards.
Excluding Togashi’s 3-point shots, the rest of the team was 1-for-17 from long range.
Scootie Randall paced Iwate with 26 points and Lawrence Blackledge and Gyno Pomare both had 14, with Kenichi Takahashi and Masato Tsukino contributing 13 and 11 points, respectively. Blackledge, the subject of this week’s profile in Thursday’s notebook, added 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
The series features the only current coaches with multiple bj-league titles on their resume. Oketani won two with the Ryukyu Golden Kings; Akita’s Kazuo Nakamura collected a pair of championship rings while guiding the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix.
Golden Kings 85, Susanoo Magic 69
In Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, former Yokohama star Draelon Burns made his Ryukyu debut a smashing success, contributing 17 points, four assists and a steal in just under 19 minutes in a runway victory over Shimane.
The Western Conference-leading Golden Kings (9-2) led 27-14 after one quarter and 50-32 at halftime. They took a 72-47 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Kibwe Trim paced Ryukyu with 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting, Naoto Kosuge scored 12, Anthony McHenry had 11 and Ryuichi Kishimoto pumped in 10. League legend Jeff Newton grabbed 13 rebounds off the bench.
Jeral Davis paced Shimane (1-10) with 22 points. Shawn Malloy added 15 points and 10 rebounds and Koki Yabuuchi had 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.
The Susanoo Magic have lost three straight games.
Five Arrows 78, Bambitious 69
In Yamatokoriyama, Nara Prefecture, led by Dexter Lyons’ team-high 20 points, five Takamatsu players scored in double figures in a win over Nara.
Paul Williams added 14 points and 16 rebounds with two blocked shots, Tsubasa Yonezawa and Hiroyuki Kikuchi both scored 12 points and Andrais Thornton netted 10 as the Five Arrows improved to 3-7.
Takamatsu sank 22 of 26 free throws to seal the win and salvage a series split.
Masaaki Suzuki dished out six assists for the Five Arrows and Lyons had four. Takamatsu held a 13-rebound advantage (52-39) on Saturday.
For the Bambitious (2-10), Tetsuya Suzuki scored a season-high 22 points on 10-for-18 shooting, adding six assists and three steals. Teammate Anthony Brown scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to complete the double-double.
Hannaryz 70, Evessa 66
In Muko, Kyoto Prefecture, David Palmer and Joe Werner scored 12 points apiece and Edwin Ubiles finished with 11 as the Hannaryz beat their Kansai rival to open the weekend series.
Yu Okada added nine points and three steals for Kyoto (7-4) and Hayato Kantake and Shun Watanuki each scored eight points. Chris Holm led Kyoto with 11 rebounds (seven offensive) and Werner grabbed 10 boards.
Naoto Takushi scored a season-high 20 points for Osaka (6-5), Dillion Sneed added 13 points and Naoto Nakamura had 11. Floor leader Kevin Galloway missed the game due to an undisclosed injury. He is the league’s No. 5 scorer (19.9 points per game) and No. 2 passer (6.6 assists per game).
The Evessa, losers of five straight, shot 22-for-62 from the field.
Albirex BB 90, Lakestars 61
In Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture, Niigata held the hosts to 2-for-20 3-point shooting and outscored them in each of the four quarters in a lopsided win.
Nile Murry led the Albirex (9-4) with 19 points and three steals and Suleiman Braimoh contributed 18 points and 12 boards. Patrick Sullivan added 15 points and nine rebounds for coach Fujitaka Hiraoka’s squad, which led 42-32 at intermission.
Rodney Webb notched a double-double (11 points, 10 boards) and Shuhei Komatsu scored 10 points for Niigata.
Niigata raked in 26 offensive rebounds, which greatly increased their scoring opportunities. The Albirex also picked up 13 steals, including Yuichi Ikeda’s team-best four.
Yutaka Yokoe was Shiga’s top scorer with 15 points and Shelton Colwell added 10 for the Lakestars (6-5).
89ers 80, Cinq Reves 67
In Sendai, Travele Jones and Wendell White both scored 21 points as the 89ers topped Tokyo.
James Hughes and Fumiya Sato each had 12 for Sendai (4-9), the latter knocking down 4 of 7 3s, and Yasuhiko Wada netted eight points.
Hughes, a Northern Illinois product, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked two shots. Takehiko Shimura handed out five assists in the win.
Edward Morris led Tokyo (4-7) with 18 points, plus 11 boards and three steals. Ricky Woods had 16 points and 19 rebounds and Akihito Inoue scored 10 points. Big man Anthony Stover finished with nine points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
The Cinq Reves missed 22 of 27 3-pointers.
B-Corsairs 75, Crane Thunders 70
In Yokohama, Marquise Gray’s 27-point performance and Wayne Marshall’s 22 points, including 10-for-11 at the charity stripe, guided the defending champions to a victory over Gunma.
Captain Masayuki Kabaya and Omar Reed both scored 10 points for Yokohama (6-5), which was credited with assists on 22 of its 27 field goals while only making 10 turnovers. Kabaya led the B-Corsairs with seven assists and Kenji Yamada had six. Omar Reed was the team’s top rebounder with 10 at Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium before an announced crowd of 2,201.
Marvell Waithe led Gunma (1-10) with 25 points and Kenya Tomori had 12. Masashi Obuchi added 11 points and seven assists.
Brave Warriors 83, Broncos 78
In Saitama, Patrick Sanders scored 19 points, Jeffrey Parmer contributed 16 points and 12 rebounds and Shinshu handed the hosts their eighth straight loss.
The Brave Warriors (7-4) had six double-digit scorers, including Xavier Gibson (14 points, four steals) and Emanuel Willis (11).
For Saitama (2-11), John Humphrey was the leading scorer with 26 points.
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Also Saturday, the visiting Oita HeatDevils defeated the Rizing Fukuoka 76-66 and the Toyama Grouses topped the host Aomori Wat’s 77-74. Complete statistics were unavailable at press time.