Photo courtesy of St. Peter’s University Athletics.
By David Cordova
This season has been one of the ages for the St. Peter’s Peacocks. Many expected very little of them, but they still managed to rise to the occasion many times this season.
The Peacocks (22-13) played a tough schedule, playing against high-major programs such as Maryland and Notre Dame, and also going 14-6 in MAAC conference play, including a signature win against MAAC regular-season champions Monmouth at home on January 2nd. Although they would lose in the MAAC semifinals to Iona for a third time on March 5th, their season would not end early.
Because of their deep playoff run in their conference tournament, the Peacocks would be invited to particpate in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, a tournament for teams that were not invited to play in either the NIT or the NCAA Tournament. St. Peter’s would take full advantage of their opportunity, beating UAlbany on March 16th by four, 59-55, and Texas State three days ago by a five-point margin, 49-44.
Those games would bring them to the semifinal matchup against the Furman Paladins team that would go 23-11 prior to both teams meeting up. But this game would be no easy mark, as the Peacocks would once again prove that they could not be counted out. And as a result of this game, they will have a chance at the school’s first national championship in history.
St. Peter’s 77, Furman 51
Early on in the game, the Peacocks went into attack mode offensively, running off to a 7-0 lead, with 15:44 to go in the first half, after two consecutive layups by senior Quadir Welton and a three-pointer by senior Chazz Patterson. St. Peter’s torrid offensive play held Furman scoreless for the first seven and a half minutes of play, until senior Kris Acox broke the drought with a free throw at the 12:22 mark to score the Paladins’ first point of the game, as the Peacocks led 15-1.
The Peacocks continued to dominate as the half went on, and would then capitalize on rebounding and scoring, as they would eventually lead by twenty-one, 29-8, with 6:51 to go, after a three-pointer by sophomore Samuel Idowu. Later in the first half, Furman would cut the deficit down to eighteen, 34-16. The half would end with the Peacocks leading 37-19. Throughout the first half, St. Peter’s shot 56%, while Furman would shoot 25% from the field.
The second half would start out in favor of the Paladins, as they would go on an 8-2 run, powered by two consecutive three-pointers by junior Daniel Fowler, to bring Furman within twelve, 39-27. But the Peacocks would then get to their original game plan, as they would go on a 14-2 run to bring their lead to 53-29, with 14:24 to go, after a three-pointer by junior Nnamdi Enechionyia.
The Paladins would continue to make some runs, but the Peacocks would never relinquish the lead and would go on to punch their ticket to the CIT championship game against the University of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi this Friday.
Enechionyia led St. Peter’s with 18 points, sophomore Antwon Portley and Patterson both added 13 points and Welton contributed 11 points and 16 rebounds. For Furman, junior Devin Sibley led with 20 points, Fowler added 14 points and Acox contributed 11 points and seven rebounds in the loss.