SOUTH BEND, IN – The Saint Peter's men's basketball team concluded non-conference play with a 63-55 loss at No. 24 nationally ranked Notre Dame on Wednesday night in the Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Indiana. Nick Griffin (Rockville, MD/Col. Zadok Magruder (George Washington)) scored a team-high 16 points in his first start of the season, to lead the Peacocks. The Peacocks drop to 5-7 overall heading back into conference play.
Nnamdi Enechionyia (Springfield, VA/St. James School (Samford)) hit a three to get things going in the game on the second possession, giving the Peacocks an early 3-0 lead. Trevis Wyche (Neptune, NJ/Saint Peter's Prep) would help the Peacocks retake the lead at 5-3, with a drive to the basket for an easy layup. After Notre Dame took its first lead of the night at 6-5 with a three by V.J. Beachman, the Peacocks got within one point two more times at 8-7 and 10-9 before falling behind 15-9 at the first media timeout. Coming out of the under 12 minute media timeout, the Peacocks fell behind by 10, with the score at 19-9. Saint Peter's fell into a four-minute scoring drought, that Antwon Portley (Lancaster, TX/Lancaster) ended with a layup, cutting the deficit to 19-11 with just a shade over 10 minutes on the clock. Notre Dame would extend its lead to 26-12, before Cavon Baker's put back layup from an offensive rebound and a steal by Wyche and fast break feed to Enechionyia for the layup cut it back to 10 points at 26-16. Griffin's three-point shot out of the final media break, cut it back to single digits for the first time since the score was 19-11, and the Peacocks scored the final four points of the half on made baskets by Quinn Taylor (Amarillo, TX/Tascosa) and Portley to take a 33-23 score into the break. Despite shooting 33.3 percent from the field in the half and allowing Notre Dame to shot over 56 percent, the Peacocks only trailed by 10. The Peacocks also forced Notre Dame into eight turnovers (Notre Dame entered game averaging 8.8 turnovers per game) turning those turnovers into seven points in the half.
The Peacocks gave up eight straight points to open up the second half, falling behind by the largest deficit of the night at 18 points. Like the first half, Enechionyia scored the first Peacock basket on a three pointer in the second to top the Irish run and make the score 41-26. Saint Peter's got to within 11 points on five straight points by Taylor, making the score 49-38 with 8:48 left. Back-to-back threes by Portley and Griffin cut it to single digits for the first time in the half at 55-46 with 5:06 on clock. After the Peacocks fell behind by 12 at the final media of the game, the Peacocks got to within 10 points after a Portley jumper with 1:18 left (60-50) and a Griffin three ball with 36.5 seconds (63-53), before closing out the game at 63-55.
"I thought our energy for 40 minutes was really good," said head coach John Dunne. "Our whole game plan was to try to control the tempo offensively and not let them get out in transition. You know they're (Notre Dame) going to score the ball at some point and if we did that offensively and we didn't turn it over, and obviously we needed to make more shots. Our effort was really good, I thought our multiple efforts were good, and that's just a really good team. I am just proud of my guys that we competed the way we did."
"Nick is a heck of a player, and we have some real good guards. I am trying to figure out how to get Nick more minutes. I have Trevis Wyche and Antwon Portley playing in the 30 minutes, were Nick is shooting 43-44 percent from three and he is only playing 20 minutes so I thought by starting him that would give him a few more minutes to play and get the minutes more even."
Griffin shot 50 percent (4-8) from down town, hitting four or more three-point field goals in a game for the fourth time this season. Portley added nine points off of the bench, while Enechionyia contributed eight points and Taylor matched his career-high of seven points.
Notre Dame was had three players score in double figures, led by Beachem's game-high of 18 points.
The Peacocks forced the Fighting Irish into 14 turnovers, matching their season high for turnovers in a game this year.
The Peacocks conclude their non-conference slate and return to league play on Monday, January 2, when the squad host defending MAAC regular season champions and hOURglass rival, Monmouth at 7 p.m.