The Niigata Albirex BB are tough to beat at home.
Saturday’s series opener against the Rizing Zephyr Fukuoka was a reminder of that fact.
Davante Gardner, the B. League’s leading scorer, and veteran teammates Lamont Hamilton and Kei Igarashi set the tone for Niigata in an 87-85 overtime victory over Fukuoka.
The Central Division-leading Albirex (24-10) extended their winning streak to eight and improved to 13-4 at home.
Gardner, who led all players with 35 points, scored the go-ahead basket with 20 seconds remaining in OT. A polished all-around offensive performer, the Marquette University alum nailed an inside jumper to secure the win. He’s averaging 26.9 points per game.
Hamilton had 19 points, Igarashi poured in 15 and Shinsuke Kashiwagi knocked down three 3-pointers for his nine points.
Gardner sank 13 of 15 free throws. He also collected 10 rebounds, while Kashiwagi made four steals.
Xavier Gibson sparked the Rizing Zephyr (9-25) with 19 points and Benjamin Lawson and Shota Tsuyama both scored 18, with Satoshi Ishitani adding 11. Lawson was the team leader in rebounds (10).
Tsuyama sent the game into overtime, making a basket with 13 seconds left. That made it 74-74.
Jets 89, Grouses 82
In Toyama, Chiba ran its winning streak to 11 by topping the hosts in a game that showcased its 3-point shooting talents.
Shuta Hara canned 4 of 6 3s and Josh Duncan knocked down a trio of long-range shots for the Jets (29-5). Michael Parker ignited the offense with 24 points on 11-for-13 shooting, grabbed eight boards and swatted four shots. Gavin Edwards and fellow All-Star Yuki Togashi both had 14 points. Togashi also handed out eight assists.
Tomokazu Abe led the Grouses (18-16) with 21 points and Leo Lyons scored 20. All-Star Game MVP Yuto Otsuka, who received the honor last Saturday at the marquee event in Toyama, had 15 points, including three 3s. Toyama big man Josh Smith scored 14 points and corralled nine rebounds.
Brex 68, Brave Thunders 57
In Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, after a down-to-the-wire victory on Friday night, the Brex created a little bit of breathing room in the rematch, outscoring Kawasaki 26-14 in the final quarter to complete a series sweep.
Yusuke Endo had a team-best 20 points and Hironori Watanabe and Jeff Gibbs both scored 10 for Tochigi (28-7).
Gibbs, who scored the game-winning basket in the opener, added 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals. Teammate Ryan Rossiter hauled in a game-high 15 rebounds.
Vernon Macklin led the Brave Thunders (21-14) with 31 points on 15-for-18 shooting and grabbed 11 boards. Nick Fazekas contributed 16 points and 14 rebounds.
It was a slow start offensively for both teams, with the hosts leading 11-5 entering the second quarter.
Golden Kings 77, SeaHorses 73
In Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, Ryukyu shot 51.7 percent from the floor in a series-opening triumph over Mikawa.
All-Star guard Narito Namizato sparked the Golden Kings (24-10) with 22 points and eight assists. Jeff Ayres had 17 points and eight rebounds. Kevin Jones provided 11 points and 11 boards and Takatoshi Furukawa also scored 11 points.
Kosuke Kanamaru led the SeaHorses (17-17) with 17 points. Kennedy Meeks had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Isaac Butts also notched a double-double (12 points, 13 boards), while Takanobu Nishikawa had 13 points.
Mikawa missed 20 of 23 3-point attempts.
NeoPhoenix 105, Diamond Dolphins 86
In Nagoya, the San-en offense operated like a high-performance sports car in a comprehensive victory over the hosts.
The NeoPhoenix registered 29 assists with just five turnovers and shot 57.7 percent from the field. Led by William McDonald, who had 22 points, San-en (14-20) finished with six double-digit scorers. Josh Childress contributed 19 points and 13 rebounds and handed out six assists, sharing the team lead in the latter category with Tomonobu Hasegawa.
Markeith Cummings had 30 points and 10 boards for the Diamond Dolphins (19-15).
Northern Happinets 67, B-Corsairs 65
In Akita, Kadeem Coleby’s buzzer-beating basket lifted the hosts past Yokohama to complete a series sweep.
Justin Keenan paced the Happinets (13-21) with 25 points and snared 10 rebounds. Ryuto Yasuoka poured in 14 points, Coleby had 12 and Takuya Nakayama dished out nine assists.
Coleby led the Akita defense with eight blocked shots.
For the B-Corsairs (8-26), Masashi Hosoya scored 21 points and Takuya Kawamura and Arthur Stepheson had 12 apiece.
Hannaryz 76, Levanga 69
In Sapporo, Kyoto held the hosts to six first-quarter points and held on for its second win in as many days over Hokkaido.
David Simon scored a game-high 24 points on 11-for-17 shooting for the Hannaryz (18-17) and Masaharu Kataoka added 17. Julian Mavunga finished with 15 points, nine boards and eight assists.
Daisuke Noguchi, David Doblas and Takehiko Orimo all had 15-point outings for the Levanga (8-27). Doblas pulled down 13 rebounds and teammate Yoshitake Matsushima dished out 10 assists.
Alvark 85, Evessa 70
In Tachikawa, defending champion Tokyo capitalized on Osaka’s mistakes, scoring 20 points off turnovers en route to victory.
The Evessa committed 14 turnovers; the Alvark had five.
Milko Bjelica made four steals to lead Tokyo (22-12).
Alex Kirk and Yudai Baba each had 19 points for the Alvark, who outscored the visitors 49-25 in the second half. Daiki Tanaka chipped in with 16 points and Bjelica added 12.
Tokyo sealed the victory at the free-throw line, making 15 of 18 shots. Kirk was 8-for-8.
For Osaka (14-20), Josh Harrellson had 29 points and 10 rebounds. Newcomer Trevor Mbakwe, a power forward, had 20 points on 10-for-14 shooting and nine rebounds in his second game in an Evessa uniform and Naoya Kumagae put 16 points on the board. Shunki Hatakeyama doled out seven assists.
Here are the results of Saturday’s B2 games:
Wat’s 96, Five Arrows 83
Bee Trains 97, Bambitious 67
Storks 91, Earthfriends 80
Samuraiz 86, Wyverns 82
Volters 94, Brave Warriors 91
Crane Thunders 85, Orange Vikings 56
Susanoo Magic 89, Fighting Eagles 82
89ers 91, Dragonflies 79
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5