NIAGARA UNIV., NY – The Saint Peter's men's basketball team did something on Friday night that no other Saint Peter's men's basketball team had ever done in the previous 36 years of being in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC); they earned 13 conference wins. The Peacocks 13th MAAC win came by way of a 66-53, road victory over Niagara University, earning the team their fifth straight win. The Peacocks overall record improves to 17-12, guaranteeing Saint Peter's their first winning season since the 2010-11 season, also the last time the Peacocks won a MAAC championship. The five game win streak is the first for the Peacocks since the 2013-14 season, when that team won five straight from February 20 to March 6.
Niagara never led in the game as the Peacocks held a lead for all but 20 seconds of the game. Nine different Peacocks got in the scoring column in the win, led by Trevis Wyche (Neptune, NJ/Saint Peter's Prep) who scored a game-high 19 points. Wyche's senior classmate, Quadir Welton (Philadelphia, PA / Math, Civics and Science Charter) and Antwon Portley (Lancaster, TX/Lancaster) both scored 11 points in the victory.
In the early goings, the Peacocks jumped out to a 9-3 lead, behind 7 points from Wyche including six of the points coming by way of layups. The Peacocks quickly added four more points out of the media timeout after consecutive post scores by Mamadou Ndiaye (Laurel, MD/Oakland Mills) and Samuel Idowu (Brooklyn, NY/Lafayette Education Complex) extending the lead to 13-3 (13:50). The Purple Eagles cut the Peacock lead to 13-7 before Nnamdi Enechionyia (Springfield, VA/St. James School (Samford)) hit a near corner three, and Welton added two from the charity stripe to extend the lead back up to double figures at 18-7. The lead got up to 20-7 behind a steal from Chazz Patterson (Browns Mills, NJ/Trenton Catholic) leading to a transition layup by Wyche (8:39). The Peacocks lead then grew to 30-15 after Nick Griffin (Rockville, MD/Col. Zadok Magruder (George Washington)) hit three-pointer. With less than one minute left in the half, Welton scored in the paint and Wyche scored another fast break layup after he forced a steal, extending the Peacocks lead to its largest of the half at 16 points (34-18). Niagara hit a well-contested corner three at the buzzer, to cut the Peacock lead to 34-21 at the break. Eight different Peacocks scored at least two points in the first half of action, led by Wyche's 11 points. Saint Peter's forced Niagara into nine first half turnovers, converting them into 12 points.
Niagara opened the half on 7-0 run, cutting the lead to 34-28, before Griffin hit his second three of the night to end the run, keeping the lead at bay, 37-28. After a pair of free throws by Wyche, Patterson scored his first points of the evening on a transition slam-dunk, extending the Peacock lead to 41-28. Niagara rallied for their second 7-0 run of the half, cutting the Saint Peter's lead to 41-35, but again the Peacocks hit a three, this time Idowu, to put the lead at nine again, 44-35 with 13:06 on the clock. With the Peacocks up, 46-40 Portley took over for Saint Peter's, hitting three straight three-pointers on three consecutive possessions, to put the Peacocks back up by double figures, 55-44, with six and a half remaining in the game. Niagara added two more points (55-46) cutting the game to single-digits for the last time before the Peacocks reeled off an 11-2 run, taking an 18 point lead at 66-48 with exactly one minute to play. The Peacocks allowed five more points, as they closed out the game, 66-53.
Niagara was led in scoring by Dominic Robb, who scored 15 points. The Saint Peter's defense held Matt Scott to six points and Kahlil Dukes to eight points. Both Scott (fourth) and Dukes (ninth) ranked in the top 10 on the MAAC scoring list and were averaging a combined 34.1 points per game coming into the night.
The win by the Peacocks and other results around the conference tonight, secure at least a third place finish in the final standings, the best regular season finish under John Dunne and highest since the 1990-91 season when the team finished in third place and ended up winning the MAAC championship as well that year.
The Peacocks will conclude the regular season at Canisius on Sunday, February 26 at 2p.m. A win will guarantee the squad a second place finish and No. 2 seed in the upcoming MAAC tournament.