Head coach Jeff Dunlap wanted a tougher, grittier game from the St. John’s Edge Monday night, and his charges delivered in a 123-110 win over the London Lightning to even their best-of-seven divisional final playoff series 2-2.
Player of the game Coron Williams came off the bench to join Charles Hinkle as a 28-point scorer on the night, Ryan Reid had a huge game with 22 points and eight rebounds, and Carl English sank 17 as the Edge guaranteed themselves a trip back to London, Ont., for a Game 6, at least, as this series is now a best-of-three.
But first there’s Game 5, 7 p.m. Thursday night as the Edge, 29-17 this season, look to upset the Central Division leaders and reigning National Basketball League of Canada champs, who went 32-15 on the year.
Nine Lightning players were on last year’s championship squad.
One of those was Royce White, last year’s league MVP who scored a game-high 32 points Monday night at Mile One Centre, but was not a factor on the defensive side of the ball as the Edge outrebounded their guests 42-26.
Ryan Anderson added 21 points for the visitors, who trailed by two points at the half of a game played before an announced crowd of 3,854.
Dunlap made one lineup change pre-game, activating forward Russell Byrd, who hadn’t played since the regular-season finale three weeks ago. Xavier Ford was deactivated to make room.
But there were other significant moves, Guard Alex Johnson, who had played just 15 minutes in the series and didn’t see any floor time in a Game 3 loss at Mile One Saturday, returned to his starter’s role Monday, although he left with what appeared to be a head injury after 19 minutes of action.
As well, centre Anthony Stover, who had played just six minutes in total in the first three games of the series, but put in 16 minutes of quality defensive work Monday before fouling out.
St. John’ guard Desmond Lee led all rebounders in the game with 10 boards.