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Monday, March 5, 2012

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Ultimate Warrior: Shinshu's Tyler Hughes drives to the basket during the Brave Warriors' 82-72 win over the Jets on Sunday in Urayasu, Chiba. YOSHIAKI MIURA

Brave Warriors take advantage of Jets' struggles to claim win

Staff writer

URAYASU, Chiba Pref. — Statisticians develop fancy formulas to calculate lots of numbers and to identify patterns in those numbers. Basketball coaches, on the other hand, will often point to one team's domination in certain phases of the game to explain the way things work.

Sunday's Chiba Jets-Shinshu Brave Warriors game didn't require a statistician's expertise to understand what happened: The Jets lost 82-72 by struggling in several key areas.

They were outrebounded 58-40. They shot 11-for-22 at the free-throw line, including Maurice Hargrow's 6-for-14. And they shot 27-for-70 from the field at Urayasu Municipal Gymnasium.

It all added up to a frustrating loss for Chiba (13-23) against another first-year franchise.

Shinshu, now 15-23, remains in striking distance to challenge for the Eastern Conference's sixth and final playoff spot, though it is four games behind the Yokohama B-Corsairs (19-19).

Lead guard Derek Raivio paced the Brave Warriors with 18 points and six assists and backcourt mate Takato Saito dished out seven assists.

"It was great to get all those assists," Shinshu coach Motofumi Aoki said, reflecting on his guards' productivity.

Forwards Edward Morris and Lee Roberts had 12 points apiece for the Brave Warriors, Yosuke Saito scored 10 and Tyler Hughes had eight. Reserve center Kyle Lockett had a major presence around the basket, picking up 12 rebounds in 17:47, as well as six points, including two dunks. Shinshu shot 30-for-64 from the field a day after topping Chiba 88-79.

"It was a tough weekend for us," Jets coach Eric Gardow said. "I thought Shinshu played pretty well all weekend. They certainly hurt us rebounding both days. They're bigger than us. I've got to give them a lot of credit in the way they came back today. The game could've gone either way yesterday or today. It was a two- or three-possession game and we really just got killed on the boards."

Hargrow scored 22 points and Jamel Staten added 20 for the Jets; they combined to shoot 3-for-14 from 3-point range. Veteran center Antoine Broxsie had 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, and the rest of the club scored 18 total points.

Most of the Jets' players had little or no experience in the bj-league before this season began. The team is making progress, Gardow said, but pointed out it's taking time to establish an identity and build a team from scratch.

"The league has changed a lot, so it becomes more of a coaching thing strategy-wise," Broxsie said, describing the challenge Gardow and his coaching peers face in the ever-growing upstart circuit.

Near the 2-minute mark of the final quarter, Hughes grabbed an offensive rebound and stuffed the ball through the net, providing an exclamation point for the Nagano Prefecture team's triumph. That made it 76-63.

The margin extended to 80-66 on a Raivio free throw in the closing minute before Kensuke Tanaka drained a 3 for the Jets.

Raivio was back at the line with 27.7 seconds to play, and he nailed the second of two foul shots to account for the final margin.

Moments earlier, Raivio made two foul shots for the final third-quarter points, and Shinshu took a 56-49 advantage into the fourth quarter. The Jets, 9-for-18 at the line entering the fourth, matched the guests for intensity as the game reached the critical stage.

But Yosuke Saito canned a rainbow 3-pointer with about 7 minutes left in the fourth as Shinshu took a 61-55 lead just before Chiba called a timeout.

Inside muscle and conversion of shots down low, timely makes from 3-point range and good use of the pick-and-roll to free Raivio to orchestrate the offense put the Warriors in the driver's seat, leading 67-57 when Chiba inbounded the ball at 4:54.

Aoki said his team's confidence has increased with two road wins against Chiba, and he praised his players for sharing the ball and getting everyone involved on offense.

Trailing 5-0 early on, the Brave Warriors had a 16-0 first-quarter spurt as their offense clicked into high gear. Yutaka Suzuki and Roberts swished back-to-back 3s to give the Warriors a 12-5 lead and Raivio followed with a fadeaway bank shot to make it 14-5. Raivio then sliced through traffic for a layup to push the lead to double digits.

After Broxsie botched a dunk attempt, Hargrow flushed a 3 with 2:40 to play in the opening quarter to end the run. That made it 16-8.

After the opening quarter, Shinshu led 22-13.

Broxsie sank two free throws with 2:48 remaining in the half, cutting it to 37-28. But a quick five-point Warriors spurt — a Yosuke Saito 3 and a Hughes dunk — increased the visitors' lead to 42-28.

Hargrow, defended tightly by Shinshu, went to the line for six foul shots in the final 92 seconds before the break, and knocked down three of them.

Shinshu took a commanding 44-30 advantage into the locker room at halftime. The Warriors were 18-for-37 from the field in the first half; Chiba shot 10-for-32, including 8-for-24 from 2-point range.

Rizing 104, Happinets 82

In Odate, Akita Prefecture, Carlos Dixon scored 24 points and Jermaine Dearman had 20 as Fukuoka bounced back from a loss in the series opener.

Kevin Palmer chipped in with 18 points for the Rizing (23-13).

For Akita (23-15), Ricky Woods scored a game-high 31 points and Kyle Swanston hit six 3s en route to 25 points.

Big Bulls 77, Shining Suns 69

In Miyakonojo, Miyazaki Prefecture, Gordon Klaiber had 23 points and Thomas Kennedy poured in 11 as Iwate salvaged a series split.

Shawn Malloy raked in 15 rebounds for the Big Bulls (10-28).

O'Neal Mims paced Miyazaki (17-21) with 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Dexter Lyons had a 14-point effort.

Hannaryz 98, Phoenix 87

In Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, Jermaine Boyette scored 21 points and four teammates reached double figures in scoring as Kyoto defeated Hamamatsu Higashimikawa.

Lee Cummard and Rick Rickert contributed 16 points apiece, Naoto Nakamura scored 13, including 3-for-3 from 3-point range, and Lance Allred had 12 as the Hannaryz improved to 24-12. Rickert grabbed 14 rebounds. Kyosuke Setoyama dished out seven assists.

Jermaine Dixon led the Phoenix (25-13) with 25 points and eight assists. Wayne Arnold added 16 points and Jeffrey Parmer had 13 for the hosts.

Albirex BB 99, Five Arrows 67

In Takamatsu, Niigata coach Matt Garrison emptied his bench early and often in a blowout win over the hapless hosts.

Forward Yuki Sato was the Albirex's leading scorer (13 points) and Chris Holm had 12 as Niigata improved to 21-17.

Nyika Williams had a 20-point outing for Takamatsu (2-34).

Golden Kings 85, Susanoo Magic 75

In Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, Ryukyu won the battle on the boards (61-35 rebounding edge) en route to a sweep over Shimane.

The Golden Kings (31-7) held Shimane's Michael Parker to a season-low scoring total — nine points on 4-for-13 shooting — for the second straight day; he had 12 points in the opener.

Reggie Golson led Shimane (20-18) with 22 points, B.J. Puckett scored 16 and Jeral Davis finished with eight blocked shots.

Anthony McHenry had a team-best 20 points for the Golden Kings, while Narito Namizato added 17 points and 10 rebounds and David Palmer scored 12 points.

Evessa 62, B-Corsairs 59

In Osaka, the Evessa edged Yokohama in a high-intensity showdown to record a series split.

Two-time MVP Lynn Washington paced the Evessa (25-11) with 13 points, Cohey Aoki scored 11, Mike Bell had 10 and three teammates each had seven.

After the game, Osaka coach Ryan Blackwell told The Japan Times, "Both teams played hard. It was a defensive battle. Yokohama did a good job mixing up their defenses and pressing a lot of the game, which threw us off a bit and didn't allow us to get into an offensive rhythm.

"Fortunately, we made some plays at the end and Lynn made another big shot to win the game for us at the end."

Justin Burrell led the B-Corsairs (19-19) with 15 points and Marcus Simmons had 14.

HeatDevils 84, 89ers 83

In Beppu, Oita Prefecture, the HeatDevils escaped with a one-point win and a sweep over Sendai.

Big man Taj Finger led Oita (14-24) with 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds. T.J. Cummings scored 19 points, Matt Lottich had 18 with five steals and point guard Naoto Takushi pumped in 11 points and handed out nine assists.

Forward Takuya Komoda was the 89ers' top scorer, finishing with 24 points on 11-for-13 shooting from the field. Dan Fitzgerald added 23 points for Sendai (19-19) and Rashaad Singleton scored 14. Captain Takehiko Shimura had 11 points and five assists.

"Taku (Komoda) started and was our leading scorer with 24," 89ers coach Bob Pierce noted. "But our bench only scored two points total."

Shimura got hurt attempting to grab a loose ball and missed the game's final four minutes.

Grouses 85, Broncos 84

In Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture, Brian Harper's 30-point, 10-rebound performance sparked the hosts in a narrow win over Saitama.

Ira Brown contributed 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Grouses (21-15), who earned a sweep.

John Flowers scored 35 points for the Broncos (10-26), John Humphrey had 21 points and Kenny Satterfield added 13 points and 11 assists.

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