INDIANOPOLIS – Short in all respects, Saint Peter’s became the last favorite of the NCAA tournament, which was heard only by the most ardent fans of the hoops, before he went on the court with the March Madness logo.
These proud Peacocks from Jersey City, New Jersey, became the third No. 15 to come out in Sweet 16, first throwing the eight-time Kentucky champion out of the brackets and then taking care of Murray in a workable 70-60 victory on Saturday night.
Even midfielder Murray State was taller and stronger than Peacocks, but that didn’t bother coach Shahin Holloway or his 195-pound forward weighing 6 feet 7 and 195 pounds, who scored 17 points and 10 rebounds and played in bruised defense on the wob.
“I’m going to say this. It will turn out a little crazy. “I have guys from New Jersey and New York,” Holloway said. “Do you think we are afraid of something? Do you think we care about the guys trying to push us and hold on? ”
Yes, the Jesuit school of 3,000 entrants has a lot to do with Jersey.
“We played with great teams all the time. So they’re a little bigger and stronger, it doesn’t bother us. If you have tough, tough kids, they’re ready to play, ”Holloway said.
They were willing enough twice in three days to break the hearts of Kentucky residents and join the Florida Gulf Coast (2013) and Oral Roberts (last year) as 15 seeders to reach the regional semifinals.
St. Peters (21-11) finished a 21-game winning streak and an unforgettable season for Murray (31-3), located 265 miles from Lexington in the southwest corner of Kentucky.
Memories will last a lifetime for Peacocks and Holloway, hoop prisoners from North Jersey who played at Seton Hall and studied there as an assistant. On Friday, Pirates coach Kevin Willard approved Holloway as a replacement if he leaves in the off-season.
The last team from New Jersey got into Sweet 16? It would have been Setan Hall in 2000, and Holloway was a playmaker.
“I was a decent player. i’m small. People calculated me. So I always had something to prove. So I trained like that, ”he said.
His next opportunity comes Friday in Philadelphia against Texas or Purdue.
Doug Edert came off the bench and scored 13 points for the Peacock, including several big baskets late. At the beginning of the second half, “St. Peters” played 13 points and never fell behind, but Murray State was still tense. Justice Hill scored a three-pointer to get the Racers in the 59-57 range with 4:07 left. Edert followed with the 3rd and the rest, and Peacock closed it on the free throw line.
“I always do my best to take as many pictures as possible,” Edert said. “I don’t think about anything when I’m in the game. I just let it happen. “
Hill made five three-pointers for 19 points and Tevin Brown scored 14 for Murray State. Problems with violations in the first half damaged the Racers, who had to figure out how to keep DJ Burns and Nicholas McMullen in a game with three fouls in each.
Shooting was also a problem: the Racers scored 35%, including 9 of 28 in the first half. St. Peters finished the game at 42% and finished the game 6-0, the ninth win in a row. KJ Jay Williams scored 12 points and Tre Hannibal scored 10 before leaving the game late due to an ankle injury. Murray State was also without starting guard Carter Collins, who turned against San Francisco in the first round.
“It’s hard because you don’t care. It’s hard because it means something to you, ”Racers coach Matt McMahon said. “Because you admire it. These guys have invested a lot to spend this historic season. Of course, you don’t want it to end. “