The clock may have struck midnight for the St. Peter’s Peacocks men’s basketball team on Sunday, but, oh what a Big Dance it was for the Cinderella squad! In an Elite 8 matchup in Philadelphia, the small university from Jersey City was defeated by one of the NCAA’s elite teams as North Carolina pulled ahead early en route to a 69-49 victory.
The Blue Blood North Carolina Tar Heels move on to face Duke in the Final Four next weekend, while the Peacocks can proudly strut home with a lifetime of memories and a tournament performance for the ages that put their college on the map. In the opening round, St. Peter’s shocked second-seeded Kentucky. Two days later, it outpaced Murray State to make the Sweet 16. The Peacocks are the only 15-seed to advance to the Elite 8 in history and the first New Jersey school to make it that far since Seton Hall in 1991.
In their first three games, the Peacocks were unfazed with being on the big stage. Tough defense and clutch shooting brought them further than anyone could imagine. Steady and scrappy guard play from Daryl Banks III, Matthew Lee, Jaylen Murray, (Mustache Man) Doug Edert, and Jersey City’s own Isiah Dasher kept the Peacocks running. Forwards KC Ndefo, Hassan Drame, Fousseyni Drame, and Clarence Rupert played with intensity inside and soared for rebounds against larger and more experienced opponents.
“I’ve got guys from New Jersey and New York City. You think we’re scared of anything?” St. Peter’s coach Shaheen Holloway told Sports Illustrated.
CBS Announcer Jim Spanarkel, a Jersey City native and former NBA player, talked about the impact that the mighty Peacocks have had during their incredible and improbable tournament run.
“It’s been amazing. Jersey City is a big city with a town feel,” he said. “[St. Peter’s] turned the city and the state upside down with excitement.”