Basketball / B. League

Brex beat Evessa to remain in playoff chase

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Three wins separate the top four teams in the six-team East Division, and the Utsunomiya Brex are in a spirited fight along with the Alvark Tokyo, Sunrockers Shibuya and Chiba Jets Funabashi for coveted playoff berths.

Brex coach Ryuzo Anzai’s squad sits a game behind the first-place Alvark in the standings after Sunday’s 85-73 victory over the Osaka Evessa at Brex Arena Utsunomiya.

All-Star forward Ryan Rossiter scored 23 of his game-high 30 points in the second half as the Brex took control and thwarted the visitors’ comeback hopes.

Utsunomiya (24-8) avenged Saturday’s 72-69 defeat by capitalizing on Osaka’s miscues.

The Brex scored 26 points off Evessa turnovers. Conversely, Osaka had 14 points off Brex turnovers.

The Evessa finished with 16 turnovers. They entered the series averaging 11.5 per game, and head coach Kensaku Tennichi admitted he wasn’t pleased about this.

“We had too many turnovers,” Tennichi said.

Declaring that his team will focus on getting better at taking care of the ball, he added: “We will make sure that we can protect what we must protect.”

The Evessa, who led by as many as 13 points in the opening quarter, took a 27-18 advantage into the second stanza.

The Brex then heated up offensively, using an 8-0 spurt to pull within 40-39 on a Jeff Gibbs putback with 1:57 left in the half. Yusuke Endo, Gibbs and Rossiter each scored seven points in the quarter.

With 48 seconds remaining in the quarter, Endo’s driving bank shot gave the hosts their first lead (44-42), one they would not relinquish.

Utsunomiya, which led 47-42 at the break, closed out the first half on a 16-2 run.

The Evessa trimmed the lead to 65-61 on a Tatsuya Ito layup late in the third before a 7-0 Brex spurt that started in the third and extended into the final period gave the hosts some breathing room.

Gibbs’ dunk with 3:35 left made it 80-65 and put an exclamation point on the victory

Gibbs contributed 13 points and 12 rebounds (seven offensive). Seiji Ikaruga also had 13 points, with Makoto Hiejima and Endo both scoring nine. Hiejima had a team-high five assists.

“It was a good game,” said Rossiter, whose team had seven players with two or more assists. “We felt we had to bounce back from yesterday.”

Takuya Hashimoto led Osaka with 18 points. Josh Harrellson scored 17 points, surpassing the 3,000-point milestone in the B. League, and grabbed 17 rebounds. Ito had 13 points and seven assists, while Richard Hendrix added 12 points and 11 boards. Dynamic forward Ira Brown sat out the game while nursing an undisclosed injury.

Utsunomiya now turns its attention to a marquee matchup with the visiting Alvark (25-7) on Wednesday. The Evessa face the Ryukyu Golden Kings, who are tied with them for the West Division’s best record, on the same night.

Alvark 77, Grouses 64

In Tachikawa, the two-time defending champions held Toyama to 23 first-half points and completed a series sweep.

Kevin Jones paced the Alvark with 18 points. Zack Baranski and Seiya Ando scored 16 and 13 points respectively.

For the Grouses (12-20), Satoru Maeta had 19 points and Josh Peppers added 13.

Jets 91, NeoPhoenix 65

In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, Chiba dominated the first quarter and extended its winning streak to seven, routing San-en.

The hosts trailed 22-9 entering the second period.

Josh Duncan finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, Nick Mayo scored 12 points and Koh Flippin, Michael Parker and Yuki Togashi had nine apiece for the Jets (22-10).

NeoPhoenix rookie guard Yuki Kawamura had 21 points in his second pro game. In his Saturday debut, the 18-year-old Yamaguchi Prefecture native scored eight points and dished out three assists.

Robert Dozier added 17 points and eight boards for San-en (3-29).

Albirex BB 66, Northern Happinets 53

In Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, the hosts salvaged a series split by prevailing in a defensive struggle against Akita.

Niigata (10-22) shot 35.8 percent from the field and held the visitors to 31.6 percent.

Xavier Gibson led the Albirex with 20 points.

Ryuto Yasuoka scored 17 points for the Northern Happinets (14-17).

Sunrockers 107, Levanga 70

In Sapporo, Shibuya put 37 points on the board in the third quarter to turn a comfortable lead into a rout, handing the Levanga their eighth consecutive loss.

Ryan Kelly sparked the Sunrockers (22-10) with 24 points and nine assists. Sebastian Saiz had 20 points and 11 boards and Kohei Sekino scored 19 points, including 5 of 6 from 3-point range.

Markeith Cummings had 25 points for Hokkaido (11-21).

Golden Kings 71, B-Corsairs 69

In Okinawa City, Jack Cooley’s 23-point, 15-rebound effort helped carry Ryukyu past Yokohama for the second straight day.

Narito Namizato contributed 11 points and five assists for the Golden Kings (21-10).

James Southerland led the B-Corsairs (8-23) with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Naoaki Hashimoto poured in 12 points.

Lakestars 92, Susanoo Magic 71

In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, seven Lakestars players scored in double digits as the hosts wrapped up a weekend sweep of Shimane.

Craig Brackins had a team-high 16 points and Yusuke Karino supplied 14 for Shiga (15-17). Takumi Saito added 10 points and 11 assists.

Brian Qvale had 23 points for the Susanoo Magic (10-22).

Diamond Dolphins 78, SeaHorses 74 (OT)

In Nagoya, Justin Burrell ignited the Diamond Dolphins with 21 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as they earned an overtime triumph and ended Mikawa’s nine-game win streak.

Takaya Sasayama poured in 17 points and Hilton Armstrong finished with 13 points and 13 boards for Nagoya (13-19).

For the SeaHorses (14-18), Davante Gardner had 29 points and 12 rebounds.

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