UNCASVILLE, CT – The backcourt duo of Nick Griffin (Rockville, MD/George Washington/Col. Zadok Magruder) and Davauhnte Turner (Simsboro, LA/Independence CC/Gambling HS) combined for 41-points, leading to a 70-61 victory for the Saint Peter's men's basketball team over Sacred Heart in the semifinal round of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. Both Griffin (23 points) and Turner (18 points) scored career-highs in the Peacock's first win of the season. The win advances Saint Peter's to the championship game of the Springfield Bracket, which will take place tomorrow night at 8pm against South Alabama.
"Nick [Griffin] has stepped up right from summer school through the first day of practice for us," said head coach John Dunne when asked about Griffin. "He is a really quiet kid who has become very vocal. He wasn't known to be a physical kid when he got here, but he is playing with toughness and physicality right now and he is playing like a fifth year guy who just wants to win. Davauhnte [Turner], I am just really proud of him because he had a rough start and kind of looked a little shell shocked to start the game. I thought he just stayed with it and he made a lot of big plays for us down the stretch. I am proud of how both of them stepped up tonight."
Nnamdi Enechionyia (Springfield, VA/Samford?St. James School) hit his first three point shot of the season, cutting the Peacocks early deficit to 4-3. Griffin tied the game at 5-5, nailing a mid-range jumper and then he hit a left handed layup on a drive to the left, giving the Peacocks the lead at 7-6. The Peacocks fell behind by six points, but Turner hit a three-pointer, to cut the deficit to 14-11. Seven straight points by Samuel Idowu (Brooklyn, NY/Lafayette Educational Complex) on back-to-back baskets in paint and a three-point field goal, put the Peacocks behind, 20-18. Sacred Heart responded with a 9-0 run, that extended the lead over the Peacocks to 29-18. A layup by Turner, then another layup by Griffin, would stop the run and cut the deficit to 29-22. Turner kept the hot hand going when he hit back-to-back trifectas, putting the Peacocks back within two-points at 33-31 with just under two minutes left in the half. Enechionyia, then went deep on a three, giving the Peacocks their first lead since 7-6, at 34-33 before the half. Four of the five Peacock starters (Griffin, Enechionyia, Idowu, and Turner) combined to score 33 of the Peacock's 34 points, led by Turner, who was leading all-scorers with 11 points in the first 45 minutes.
The Peacocks open the second half on a 12-3 run, charged by an 8-0 run leading to a Sacred Heart timeout almost five minutes into the half (15:11). The run for the Peacocks gave them their first double digit lead of the night at 46-36. The run was sparked by layups from Idowu and Quinn Taylor (Amarillo, TX/Tascosa), threes from Griffin and Turner, and a layup by Griffin to cap the run. The lead would grow to 14-points after Griffin drained another three-pointer, extending the lead to 54-40. After the big shot by Griffin, Sacred Heart got the contest to 54-47, but Cameron Jones (Fairless Hills, PA/Pennsbury) hit the next three-ball for Saint Peter's to stop the Pioneer's run. The Saint Peter's lead went back to double-digits on a stepback jumper in paint by Turner, making it a 60-49 advantage for Saint Peter's. Sacred Heart managed to again cut the Peacock lead to single digits, dropping the score to, 62-55, by the final media break of the game with 3:54 left. The Peacocks went scoreless over the next two-minutes before Taylor made a strong move to the rim and scored a layup through contact, giving the Peacocks the edge at 64-57 with 1:46 left to play. The game got to within three points (64-61) with 1:32 left, but the Peacock's signature defensive style of play didn't allow Sacred Heart to score another point over the final minute and a half, leading to the 70-61 win for Saint Peter's.
The Peacock's starting five combined to score 65 of the 70 total points. In addition to Griffin's and Turner's career-high games, Enechionyia added a season-high of nine points, Idowu scored nine points as well, and Taylor chipped in with six points.