Jersey City’s St. Peter’s Peacocks Strut Up and Over Purdue for the Elite 8


It was the biggest upset in Philadelphia since Rocky Balboa defeated Apollo Creed in the sequel. But this was no movie—maybe the storyline was even too much of a stretch for Hollywood. No sir. This was in-your-face reality. Jersey City street ball. On Friday night, the St. Peter’s Peacocks used a combination of hustle, fearlessness, and grit to slay a giant from the Big 10.

St. Peter’s has captured the imagination of America and the heart of Jersey City with its unprecedented NCAA tourney run. The magic continued when the fifteenth-seeded Peacocks defeated third-seeded Purdue, 67-64. On Sunday, they will play in an Elite 8 contest against North Carolina with a Final Four berth at stake.

Daryl Banks III led St. Peter’s with 14 points. The junior guard hit clutch shot after clutch shot to keep the Peacocks close, and in the final minutes, the team sank pressure free throws to seal the win. Doug Edert, who has become a national sensation because of his mustache, was 7-of-8 from the line, and hit two from the charity stripe with four seconds left to give St. Peter’s a three-point lead. But it was the Peacocks’ stout defense that was once again the difference, forcing turnovers, blocking shots, and giving a valiant effort against Purdue’s big men, 7-foot-4 Jack Edey and 6-10 Trevion Williams. 

As Purdue’s desperation three-pointer hit the rim, the partisan crowd in Philadelphia and the fans watching from the Run Baby Run Center in Jersey City exploded. As the television camera panned the crowd in Philly, a man in a St. Peter’s jersey, said, “Why not us?” Why not St. Peter’s?—a team that has already defeated mighty Kentucky (No. 2 seed) and stopped streaking Murray State.  The Peacocks are the only 15-seed to ever advance to the Elite 8. 

In a post-game interview, St. Peter’s coach Shaheen Holloway—answering all the critics who never gave his 13-point underdog team a chance—said, “What they gonna say now?” And what’s left to be said?—only “we got next!” as St. Peter’s heads to the Elite Eight.

Tom Campisi
Author: Tom Campisi