On Thursday, St. Peter stunned Kentucky by becoming the 15th seed to win the NCAA Men’s Championship match.
On Saturday, she joined the truly rare air. In their second round match with #7 Murray State, the Peacocks picked up where they left off with a 70-60 victory over the contestants to secure an unlikely Sweet 16 bid. And like Thursday, that wasn’t a coincidence. Saint Peter was the better team from the start.
Peacocks did not lag behind the state of Murray. They opened a 32-27 lead in the first half and then scored the first eight points of the second half as if they were announcing to their doubters that this was already happening. Murray State has cut shorts on several occasions, but St. Peter has had an answer each time.
Now, the Murray State team that entered Saturday 31-2 will go home with their third loss of the season and first after 21 consecutive wins. Meanwhile, St. Peter plans to travel next weekend to a regional area of Philadelphia 90 miles south of its campus in Jersey City, New Jersey. The winner of Sunday’s game between Texas and Purdue awaits.
With this win, St. Peter became the third seeded 15th to qualify for the tournament’s second weekend. Florida’s Gulf Coast dunk City was the first to do so in 2013. Oral Roberts repeated the feat only last year. Now Saint Peter joins the exclusive club.
“It’s a fantastic ride,” coach Shaheen Holloway told CBS after the game. “How does it happen…I’ve been telling these guys all year long that no one works harder than them. The things I put in these guys – that’s easy. Training is hard. Kudos to these guys. They deserve it.”
The party back home celebrated the occasion aptly.
Senior striker KC Ndevo led the way for St. Peter, scoring 17 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks, including late SWAT to punctuate the win.
Junior guard Doug Edert added 13 points from the bench, including this late triple pointer to stifle Murray State’s career.
As a team, St. Peter’s Murray State won 34.6% of shooting from the ground, battle recoil, 38-31, and turning margin, 12-10. As previously noted, the team was the best all around on Saturday.
The Peacock will face another tough test against a strong conference team in Philadelphia. But that’s a concern for the next week. For now, the moment belongs to St. Peter.