Elite Stone! Saint Peter’s tops Purdue, marks 15-seeded history – WAVY.com
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Doug Edert jumped onto the press table and punched a raving part of Saint Peter fans in the air — didn’t they all? – as his teammates bumped their chests and flashed eight fingers as the mayhem turned into a perfect peacock party.
Edert’s giant leap towards the roaring crowd might have been his only mistake of the night.
“You jumped on a table?” coach Shaheen Holloway later asked, then paused for a serious sideways glance for comedic effect.
Come on, coach. Let the peacocks strut their stuff.
The upheavals aren’t over yet, and the small suburban college in Jersey City, New Jersey is still exceeding all March expectations. Next step: the Elite Eight, a first destination for a No. 15 seed in the NCAA tournament.
“We are writing history,” Edert said. “We can’t wait to make more history.”
Daryl Banks III scored the tying and go-ahead baskets that pushed Saint Peter’s to the brink of the Final Four, with the suddenly popular Peacocks taking advantage of homecourt advantage to beat third seed Purdue 67-64 on Friday night .
The Peacocks (22-11) added the Boilermakers to their upset streak and will face North Carolina in the Eastern Region final on Sunday.
Saint Peter’s had the fans inside the Wells Fargo Center packed for his side from the opening tip and the arena erupted when Banks tied the game 57-all on a turnover jumper. He hit a driving layup with 2:17 left, which made it 59-57.
The Peacocks kept their cool – hey, they’re used to those wins now after knocking out No. 2 seed Kentucky and seventh seed Murray State – and held off a Purdue team that tried to bully them inside.
“What are they going to say now?” Holloway spoke about doubters on his team, a group whose numbers are dwindling.
The Boilermakers (29-8), favorites at 12 1/2 points according to FanDuel Sportsbook, never led by more than six.
Almost 30 years to the day since Duke’s Christian Laettner stunned Kentucky with a buzzer-beater in overtime to win a regional final at the Shaved Spectrum since, Purdue and Saint Peter’s have pulled off their own Philly classic.
Saint Peter fans traveled 93 miles south to help pack the arena and give the Peacocks more of an edge than they usually get in their music box known as Run Baby Run Arena. Consider that just 434 fans were listed as the total attendance for Saint Peter’s home opener this season against LIU.
More than that proved to give the team a Sweet 16 send off from campus this week.
“Everyone wanted tickets. I can’t get tickets for everyone,” Holloway said. “I’ll tell you what, man, I can’t believe the support we have. It’s incredible. Jersey City has been amazing for us.
Even more basketball fans — yes, even those whose parentheses the Peacocks helped break — suddenly rooted for Saint Peter’s, an unassuming campus just across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan.
Jaden Ivey buried an NBA-distance 3 with 8 seconds left that shot Purdue to 65-64 and momentarily silenced the crowd.
Carefree. Edert, whose wispy mustache and goofy personality earned him a fast food chicken endorsement deal, sank two free throws to seal the win.
Edert then led the madness onto the court and brought it to the table. He waved to fans in the front rows as the rest of the Peacocks gathered and hugged before gathering at the basket to celebrate – once again – the biggest win in program history.
“Yeah. I found a little opening and started moving stuff around,” Edert said of his table jump. “I don’t know, I was so excited.”
The Peacocks fell and made snowmen on the field and soon there was a huge celebration of fans who jammed the hall chanting ‘SPU! SPU!” Saint Peter’s students and fans celebrated like they had won a championship. Saint Peter’s had never won an NCAA Tournament game and now they will keep dancing for at least one more game.
The school is tiny. The players are small. It does not mean anything. Yet, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
The Peacocks were the third No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16. Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 and Oral Roberts last year failed to reach the regional final. Only two 12 seeds qualified for a regional final.
Meanwhile, a spot in the Final Four remains elusive for Boilermakers coach Matt Painter and his perennial Big Ten competitor.
“I wish I could have coached better, I wish I had played a little better,” Painter said. “But that’s part of the competition.”
Banks led the Peacocks with 14 points, Clarence Rupert scored 11 and Edert had 10. Trevion Williams had 16 points and eight rebounds for Purdue.
The Boilermakers missed 16 of 21 3-pointers and made 15 turnovers. Ivey was just 4 of 12 for nine points.
“I’m still in shock, honestly,” Williams said.
Join the club.
Before the match, the Saint Peter players lay on their backs on the half-court as they carried out their stretching routine, most watching the big screen which replayed highlights from last weekend’s wins which brought the team to Philadelphia.
Now, the Peacocks’ run is etched in tournament history. Beating Kentucky and coach John Calipari was pretty shocking. Eight days later, they are still within range.
The Peacocks lived by Holloway’s mantra: “I got guys from New Jersey and New York. You think we’re scared of anything?
They were certainly not afraid of the Boilermakers.
Purdue used their huge height advantage and tossed the ball inside to 7-foot-4 Zach Edey for easy dunks and Sasha Stefanovic hit three 3s to make up for nine turnovers.
When Holloway referred to his players as tough New York and New Jersey, he should have thrown Philly into the mix. Rupert grew up in Philadelphia and got the loudest standing ovation of all the Peacocks during lineup introductions. He scored all of his points in the first half and kept the Peacocks within four at the break.
“I feel like there’s no pressure,” Edert said.
MOTHER AND CHILD REUNION
Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey flew in from Connecticut after his team practiced on Friday to watch his son Jaden play in his first Sweet 16. She had a car waiting for her after the Irish practice for make the 2.5 hour trip. Notre Dame will face North Carolina State in the Women’s Sweet 16 on Saturday morning.
The No. 8 seed Tar Heels beat fourth seed UCLA 73-66 and will look to end the Peacocks’ unforgettable march.
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