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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Aoki plays starring role in Evessa triumph over Grouses

Staff writer

The post-Lynn Washington era officially began on Saturday, and the Osaka Evessa defeated the Toyama Grouses 85-81 in the bj-leaue series opener.

News photo
Drive time: Big Bulls guard Makoto Sawaguchi (1) attempts to get past 89ers forward Takuya Komoda in Saturday's bj-league game in Sendai. Iwate defeated Sendai 80-72. DOMINIKA FITZGERALD

Six-time All-Star Cohey Aoki scored a team-best 22 points on 7-for-11 shooting, including eight in the final 3:33, to lead the Evessa. He sank four free throws in the last 10 seconds to secure the win for Osaka (32-15 overall, 19-6 on the road). Aoki was 6-for-6 at the free-throw line. As a team, Osaka shot a dismal 18-for-29 at the line.

Mike Bell added 19 points and 13 rebounds and Bobby St. Preux had a 15-point effort for the Evessa, who won three consecutive championships (2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08) with power forward Washington playing a starring role on the team. Washington's so-called retirement was announced by the team on Monday in the aftermath of his exoneration on all drug-related charges on March 30. (Osaka Prefectural Police had arrested Washington on March 13 for his alleged role in smuggling a package containing marijuana into Japan. He was in police custody for 18 days.)

Osaka center Wayne Marshall, who had been sidelined since March 25 with a hand injury, contributed nine points, six rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots in 34-plus minutes in his return to the lineup. Shota Konno scored seven points and Satoshi Takeda and Masashi Obuchi each had six apiece.

Brian Harper paced Toyama with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Ira Brown had 15 points and 15 boards and former Evessa guard Masashi Joho, Aoki's former Tokyo Apache teammate, added 21 points and sank six 3s, while Larry Turner had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Grouses, who were 6-for-17 at the charity stripe, fell to 24-23.

B-Corsairs 87, Five Arrows 58

In Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture, for the second consecutive game Takamatsu was overwhelmed by the hosts in the third quarter en route to a blowout loss, the team's 21st straight.

Justin Burrell notched a double-double (23 points, 10 rebounds) for the B-Corsairs (27-21). Draelon Burns scored 15 points, Masayuki Kabaya had 12 and Marcus Simmons 10.

In the rematch, Yokohama outscored Takamatsu 35-14 in the third; in both games the hosts had 67 points to the visitors' 27 in that span.

For Takamatsu (2-46), Nyika Williams had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Paul Butorac scored 14 points.

Big Bulls 80, 89ers 72

In Sendai, Thomas Kennedy scored a game-high 28 points on 10-for-14 shooting to lead Iwate past the hosts.

Jamal Boykins added 16 points with nine rebounds and Gordon Klaiber had 12 points and nine boards. Yoshiaki Yamamoto chipped in with seven points and six assists for the expansion Big Bulls, who improved to 15-32.

Iwate erupted for 28 fourth-quarter points and held Sendai to 11 to seize control of the game.

"Thomas Kennedy had a great game," Sendai coach Bob Pierce told The Japan Times. "It seemed that we let up a bit in the fourth quarter because we had the lead, and then could never turn the switch back on once the game was in danger."

Dan Fitzgerald had a team-best 19 points for the 89ers (24-23), Rashaad Singleton added 15 points, including four dunks, and 14 boards, Kenichi Takahashi scored 14, Johnny Dukes poured in 13 and Takuya Komoda had seven. Takehiko Shimura dished out five assists.

Sendai missed 22 of 27 3-point attempts.

Rizing 97, Broncos 78

In Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, Kevin Palmer's 28 points and eight assists guided Fukuoka to a blowout win over the Broncos.

Carlos Dixon had a 21-point evening, Akitomo Takeno scored 14 points and blocked two shots, Jermaine Dearman had 12 points with 11 boards and Gary Hamilton hauled in 19 rebounds and scored 10 points for good measure. Jun Nakanishi added seven points for the Rizing (29-18), who put 35 points on the board in the fourth quarter.

The Rizing won the battle on the boards (60-39). Rebounding has been an ever-present problem for Saitama this season.

John "Helicopter" Humphrey led the Broncos (14-33, worst record in the Eastern Conference) with 25 points, John Flowers scored 18 and Yuki Kitamuki had 14.

Albirex BB 78, Hannaryz 66

In Niigata, the Albirex played a solid defensive game and received balanced scoring to pull out a win over Kyoto.

Kimitake Sato was Niigata's top scorer with 15 points, Bennet Davis had 13, Chris Holm added 12 points and 10 boards and Erron Maxey scored 11. Nile Murry scored nine points and hauled in 10 rebounds and Yuichi Ikeda finished with eight points as the Albirex improved to 26-21.

Jermaine Boyette had 14 points for the Hannaryz (30-17) and Babacar Camara scored 11 and raked in 15 rebounds. Taizo Kawabe scored 10 points and Rick Rickert added nine. Former NBA center Lance Allred returned to the Kyoto rotation after missing five games due to a foot injury, finishing with four points and four rebounds in 10 minutes.

Kyoto was held to 21-for-59 shooting.

Jets 96, Shining Suns 88

In Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, Jamel Staten scored 27 points, collected 11 rebounds and dished out five assists as the hosts defeated Miyazaki.

Maurice Hargrow contributed 23 points, six boards and five assists and Antoine Broxsie scored 16 points on 7-for-7 shooting and pulled down 10 rebounds. Gaston Moliva had 11 points and eight boards for Chiba (18-29), while Kensuke Tanaka handed out six assists and made three steals.

Lewis Witcher scored 19 points for the Shining Suns (20-27), Taishiro Shimizu had 17 and Dexter Lyons supplied 14 points and five assists in defeat.

Lakestars 85, Brave Warriors 59

In Yasu, Shiga Prefecture, the hosts' depth carried them to a runaway victory over Shinshu.

Led by Bryant Markson's 20-point effort, 11 Lakestars players put points on the board. Josh Peppers and Dionisio Gomez added 12 points apiece and Yu Okada and Julius Ashby each scored eight.

Shiga (31-16) led 44-22 at halftime.

The Lakestars collected 17 steals. Veteran guard Takamichi "Wara" Fujiwara was the top theft artist, with four steals on the night.

Derek Raivio scored 12 points for the Brave Warriors (18-29) and Yosuke Saito, Tyler Hughes and Lee Roberts all had 10 apiece.

Phoenix 93, HeatDevils 90

In Hita, Oita Prefecture, the two-time defending champions edged Oita and improved to 16-7 on the road.

Jeffrey Parmer paced Hamamatsu Higashimikawa (33-14) with 18 points and Masahiro Oguchi drained 4 of 8 3s and scored 16 points. Wayne Arnold, 3 of 4 from downtown, and Lawrence Blackledge both had 13-point outings. Floor leader Jermaine Dixon had a steady 12-point, six-rebound, five-assist, two-steal performance.

Former Phoenix star and league MVP Wendell White led the HeatDevils (19-28) with 25 points, 11 rebound and six assists, while T.J. Cummings scored 21 and grabbed 13 boards. Kohei Mitomo added 17 points.

Northern Happinets 100, Susanoo Magic 96

In Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, Kyle Swanston, the quintessential gunner, attempted 18 3s, nailed six of them and scored a game-best 32 points to lead Akita to a wild win over the hosts.

The Northern Happinets made 24 of 26 free throws, including E.J. Drayton's 8-for-8 and Ricky Woods' 7-for-7. Swanston was 8-for-9 at the line.

Woods scored 21 points for Akita (28-21), Drayton had 14 and Yuki Kikuchi added 12.

For Shimane (25-24), Michael Parker had 22 points, 18 rebounds and six assists. B.J. Puckett scored 18 and Mychal Kearse poured in 16. Jumpei Nakama had nine points.

The Magic lost the game at charity stripe, shooting 14-for-23 there

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