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Monday, Jan. 11, 2010
Lakestars halt Phoenix to share series spoils
By ED ODEVEN
The Shiga Lakestars did what few teams have been able to do this season: slow down the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix's high-scoring offense.
By doing so, the defensive-minded Lakestars defeated the host Phoenix 67-63 on Sunday to earn a series split in the bj-league.
It took a concerted team effort for the Lakestars to hold on for the win against a team averaging a league-high 87.0 points per game entering the series.
Leading 59-46 after Gary Hamilton's basket with 7:48 left in the fourth quarter, Shiga's lead disappeared nearly as quickly as a child can scream "I want ice cream" on a hot summer afternoon.
Moments later, the Phoenix had tied it at 61-61, thanks to a 15-2 run sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers by Limar Wilson and William Knight.
Ray Schafer, a center playing his second game in a Lakestars uniform this season, knocked down two free throws to give Shiga a 63-61 lead with 1:24 to play. Hamamatsu's Jermaine Green responded by hitting two free throws to tie even the score at 63-all.
Schafer returned to the foul line with 32 seconds remaining and replicated his perfect shooting form from his previous visit. That made it 65-63, Shiga.
The Lakestars closed out the game with Masashi Joho sinking two of four foul shots in the final minute.
Gary Hamilton paced Shiga (13-13) with a 13-point, 16-rebound effort and Joho added 13 points. Bobby Nash and Schafer both scored 10, Luke Zeller added nine points and eight boards and Takamichi Fujiwara scored eight and dished out three assists.
The Lakestars held Wendell White, the league's third-leading scorer (24.7 ppg) to 13 points on 5-for-12 shooting. It also helped their cause that he was 2-for-6 at the line a day after he had a 28-point outing.
Shiga also limited Knight, a 21.6 ppg scorer, to 13 points on 5-for-19 shooting.
Wilson finished with 22 points to lead Hamamatsu (18-4).
Elsewhere Sunday, Julius Ashby and Cohey Aoki scored 19 points apiece in the Tokyo Apache's 70-58 road win over the Niigata Albirex BB.
Rasheed Sparks added 12 points, 11 rebounds and five assists and Michael Chappell scored 10 points for Tokyo (6-14), which plays host to the expansion Kyoto Hannaryz on Wednesday and Thursday at Yoyogi National Gymnasium No. 2.
For Niigata (11-11), Tyrone Levett had a team-high 16 points, Paul Butorac scored 12 and four teammates finished with six points apiece.
The Apache outscored the Albirex 21-6 in the final quarter. Aoki had 14 fourth-quarter points.
Josh Bostic's season-best 36-point effort led Kyoto to a 78-75 home win over the Saitama Broncos.
Bostic, a rookie power forward, also had 13 rebounds, three assists and three steals for the Hannaryz (7-15). Teammate Taizo Kawabe scored 18 points, John Clifford had 12 points and 11 boards and Naoto Takushi handed out five assists.
For Saitama (10-12), Mario Jointer topped the scoring chart with 28 points, followed by Terrence Roberts (19 points) and Yuki Kitamuki (14).
In a clash of Western Conference rivals, the Ryukyu Golden Kings beat the host Osaka Evessa 88-77 to even the teams' series record at 3-3 this season.
Center George Leach had game-high totals in points (27) and rebounds (17) for Ryukyu, which played without injured Jeff Newton, the reigning regular-season and playoff MVP. The frontcourt star sustained an unspecified injury in Saturday's game.