Edi comes off bench to ignite Gonzaga
For Guy Landry Edi and the Gonzaga Bulldogs, the positives easily outweighed the negatives.
Edi contributed a season-high 15 points, including three 3-pointers, as the Bulldogs defeated San Francisco 74-63 at the McCarthey Athletic Center on Thursday to take over second place in the West Coast Conference men’s basketball standings. Gonzaga (15-3, 5-1 WCC) moved in front of BYU (5-2), which lost 82-68 to visiting Loyola Marymount. Saint Mary’s defeated Pepperdine to improve to 7-0.
Edi came off the bench early and quickly produced 10 points, surpassing his previous season high of nine.
“The plan for them was to not guard me on 3-pointers because I haven’t been able to knock those shots down,” said Edi, who was just 1 of 9 on 3s entering the game. “But they left me open and I knocked the shots down.”
Edi, suspended by the NCAA for the first eight games for playing professionally in France several years ago, saw extended playing time, filling in at the “4” at times with Sam Dower enduring a tough night and Ryan Spangler sidelined with a broken finger.
Edi made a pair of 3s in a back-and-forth first half. The lead changed hands eight times before the Bulldogs closed the half with a 10-1 run to take a 41-32 advantage. Edi got the starting nod in the second half and immediately drilled his third trey, hiking Gonzaga’s lead to 44-34.
“He brings energy on defense and flashes of brilliance on offense, and then other things,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We’re trying to get the other things out of there, but he really helped us tonight.”
The “other things” included four turnovers as the Bulldogs survived 19 miscues against USF’s pressure, trapping defense.
“Those are careless,” said Edi, shaking his head. “I can limit at least two or three of those.”
Gonzaga hiked its lead to 57-37 with 12:32 remaining, but the Dons responded with eight unanswered points as GU committed six turnovers in a 3:30 span. USF narrowed the deficit to single digits when Angelo Caloiaro hit a 3-pointer with 7:18 left, but Marquise Carter’s three-point play started a clinching 8-0 run.
“When you’re playing a team that presses or traps on every possession, it’s not going to have the flow of a normal game,” Few said. “You have to attack it to make plays, but yet you can’t settle so there’s always a dilemma. For most part, we did a nice job attacking it and didn’t settle for many bad shots.”
Gonzaga made nearly 49 percent of its shots and did a solid defensive job on USF’s talented backcourt. Michael Williams, Rashad Green and Cody Doolin combined for 22 points, eight under their typical output. The trio also had nine turnovers. Caloiaro heated up in the second half to finish with 14 points. Center Perris Blackwell, who averages 11.5 points, was limited to seven.
“That’s what it’s all about (defending their guards),” Few said. “We did a nice job of being tough, being in the gaps and keeping them in front of us, and that’s not easy. They get a lot of dribbles and some of them are really quick.”
Gonzaga had a season-high 14 steals, several of those fueling the late run that gave the Zags a nine-point halftime lead. David Stockton had four steals. USF finished with 19 turnovers and made just 42.3 percent of its shots. The Dons misfired on 9 of 21 free throws.
“We made our runs but we missed some free throws, especially me,” said Caloiaro, a 79-percenter who was 4 of 9. “We gave them a couple too many transition baskets. We could have taken care of the ball better.”
Gonzaga entertains San Diego, which defeated Portland 82-63, at 5 p.m. Saturday.
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