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Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011

89ers edge Grouses in OT, earn first home win since before March 11 earthquake

Staff writer

The Sendai 89ers edged the visiting Toyama Grouses 88-84 in overtime on Saturday. In doing so, the 89ers recorded their first home win since before the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The 89ers, playing only their third home game of the 2011-12 bj-league season, recorded their third straight win, improved to 6-3 overall and moved into second place in the Eastern Conference standings.

It was a hard-earned win. Johnny Dukes sank two free throws with 23 seconds left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 78-78 and send it into overtime.

In the bonus period, Dukes scored the go-ahead basket with 37 seconds left, giving Sendai an 86-84 lead, and the 89ers hung on to win the game.

"We are so happy to give our fans that first home win in eight months since the earthquake, but it wasn't easy," 89ers coach Bob Pierce told The Japan Times. "It took overtime, blood — Take (captain Takehiko Shimura) played with a big cut on his chin in the second half — sweat, and a lot of heart."

Dan Fitzgerald led the 89ers with 23 points, Dukes had 21 points, O'Neal Mims poured in 15 and Rashaad Singleton made a solid impact in the post (12 points, eight rebounds, three blocks). Shimura had seven points and five assists and Hikaru Kusaka added six points.

"Game experience was crucial in that overtime period," Pierce said. "Rashaad (Singleton) stepped up and had his best game so far."

For Toyama (4-5), Ira Brown scored 21 points, Takeshi Mito had a 17-point, six-assist effort and Masashi Joho added 14 points and four assists.

Evessa 91, Lakestars 71

In Kobe, Osaka's Lynn Washington and Satoshi Takeda each scored 16 points and the hosts rolled to a victory over Shiga.

The Evessa (8-1, best record in the Western Conference) seized control of the game in second quarter, outscoring the Lakestars 25-8.

Lawrence Blackledge added 13 points and four blocks, Lavell Payne had 12 points, Shota Konno poured in nine and Cohey Aoki had eight.

Ray Nixon paced Shiga (6-3) with 19 points, Yu Okada scored 15, Josh Peppers had 14 and Julius Ashby added 13 points and nine boards.

Northern Happinets 96, Jets 71

In Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, Akita's high-octane offense was efficient, scoring 54 second-half points en route to a blowout win and a series sweep over the hosts.

E.J. Drayton led the Northern Happinets with 27 points on 11-for-13 shooting and Stanley Ocitti finished with 16 points and 19 boards, while Ricky Woods poured in 19 points in 19-plus minutes off the bench. Michael Gardener handed out six assists and collected three steals and Yuki Kikuchi had 12 points for the Happinets, who won three of four games over Chiba in the past two weekends. The teams were both 5-1 and tied for first place entering their Nov. 5-6 series.

Now, Akita is 8-2, the best record in the 10-team Eastern Conference.

For the Jets (6-4), Maurice Hargrow was the top scorer with 13 points, Takaki Ishida had 12 and Hiroki Sato 11.

Chiba was 12-for-39 from 3-point range, taking eight more 3s than shots from inside the arc (10-for-31). The Jets were 15-for-31 at the foul line; Akita made 27 of 36.

Brave Warriors 84, Big Bulls 63

In Mizusawa, Iwate Prefecture, in a matchup of first-year franchises, Shinshu routed the hosts in the series opener.

Forward Edward Morris notched a double-double (29 points, 11 rebounds) for the Brave Warriors, Lee Roberts scored 17 points and Derek Raivio had 16. Yosuke Saito added eight points as Shinshu improved to 5-4 under veteran coach Motofumi Aoki.

Thomas Kennedy was the top Iwate scorer with 20 points. Shawn Malloy contributed 14 points and 14 boards and Makoto Sawaguchi had nine points for the Big Bulls (1-8).

Rizing 89, Five Arrows 63

In Fukuoka, Kevin Palmer scored a team-best 21 points and made seven steals, J.R. Inman and Carlos Dixon had 18 points apiece and sharpshooter Akitomo Takeno added 17 as the hosts handed Takamatsu its 10th straight loss to start the season.

Power forward Gary Hamilton hauled in 15 rebounds and contributed four assists, two steals and a block for Fukuoka (6-4).

Nyika Williams paced the Five Arrows with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Takamatsu rookie head coach Kenzo Maeda, whose job may be in jeopardy, saw his team enter the second period with a 26-7 deficit. The Five Arrows had 23 turnovers, shot 3-for-11 at the free-throw line and 4-for-16 from 3-point range.

Susanoo Magic 86, Albirex BB 82

In Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, Michael Parker's 21-point outing and Reggie Golson's 19 points led Shimane to a win over visiting Niigata.

Jumpei Nakama added 15 points for the Susanoo Magic, who improved to 6-3.

Erron Maxey had a team-high 24 points for the Albirex (3-4), while Yuichi Ikeda scored 14 and Nile Murry and Chris Holm had 12 apiece. Holm also hauled in 17 rebounds.

Phoenix 87, Broncos 75

In Kosai, Shizuoka Prefecture, steady guard Jermaine Dixon's energy and production (18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) sparked two-time defending champion Hamamatsu Higashimikawa to a win over struggling Saitama.

Shoji Nakanishi scored 15 points and reigning regular-season and playoff MVP Jeffrey Parmer had 14 points and 15 boards for the Phoenix (5-4).

John Humphrey led the Broncos (3-5) with 23 points, ex-NBA point guard Kenny Satterfield had 14 points in his return to the lineup after a one-game absence and Daiki Terashita and John Flowers each scored 12.

Golden Kings 60, Shining Suns 55

In Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture, Ryukyu edged the hosts. No other information was available at press time.

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