Games like tonight are the reason for the phrase "A win is a win". Gonzaga took down San Francisco this evening in Spokane by a score of 74-63. While they lead by a pretty wide margin for a majority of the game, there wasn't a whole lot to write home about if you are a Bulldog fan. Four Zags were in double figures tonight, led by Guy Landry Edi who scored 15 points off the bench tonight. It was the junior college transfer's best offensive output of his young Gonzaga career. Elias Harris, Rob Sacre, and Kevin Pangos joined Edi in double figures for the Zags.
San Francisco hung with the Zags for most of the first half but a strong end to the half propelled Gonzaga to a 41-32 lead at the break. Gonzaga got off to a very quick start out of the halftime break as Edi, Elias Harris, and a couple of Rob Sacre dunks broke the Dons backs with 15 minutes left in the second half. USF was never able to mount a meaningful run following the first five minutes of the second half.
As I said in the opener, tonight was a fun game to see Guy Landry Edi shine. Gonzaga has had such a weakness all season at the small forward spot so any production out of that role is huge. Many believe Edi is the guy that needs to step up as Mike Hart is really never going to provide consistent offense, Marquise Carter continues to struggle, and Mathis Keita & Monninghoff's minutes are very limited. This puts a ton of pressure on the freshmen backcourt combo of Gary Bell and Kevin Pangos. While the two have handled that pressure admirably, life would be a ton easier if the Zags could rely on production out of the three spot. Edi did a little bit of everything tonight. He knocked down open shots from deep, got to the rim, and made plays. He still really struggles handling the ball and turns it over too much but it is hard to ignore the potential that he has.
To put in plainly, Gonzaga won the game but they are in a bit of a funk that is similar to what we have seen in year's past during WCC play. Not a whole lot of rhythm in their offense, poor against any type of pressure, and just moments where scoring seems to be nearly impossible. I feel like a broken record but the absolute key to this team's success is Elias Harris. Everything runs so much better when he is touching the ball and is allowed to dominate the flow of the game. For whatever reason, the Bulldogs either take a while to realize this or forget throughout the game. Harris' performance this season has been outstanding and his play in the second half was a huge reason why the Zags pulled away.
Feel free to discuss in the comments below. Tonight was just a whole lot of "eh, ok" with some flashes of solid play. The Zags February 2nd date at BYU inches closer and closer. While the Cougars have struggled, a performance like tonight in Provo would absolutely result in another conference loss.