EASTON, PA – Graduate guard, Nick Griffin (Rockville, MD/George Washington/Col. Zadok Magruder) poured in a career and game-high of 37 points, leading Saint Peter's men's basketball to the team's first road victory of the season in an, 86-82, defeat over Lafayette College on Sunday afternoon. Griffin's 37 points were the most in a game by a Peacock player since Hall of Famer, Keydren "Kee Kee" Clark, scored 43 points against Canisius on February 24, 2006. He became the first men's basketball player from Saint Peter's to score over 30 points in a game since Antwon Portley tallied 30 points against Brown on November 13, 2015 and he was the first Peacock to surpass the 30-point threshold on the road since Desi Washington dropped 34 at Seton Hall on December 14, 2013. The Peacocks improve to 2-3 on the season while Lafayette drops to 0-5.
"I know Nick [Griffin] stood out with the 37 points and I am happy for him, but I thought the win was a total team effort," said head coach John Dunne. "Quinn [Taylor] obviously had a big game for us with the double-double. Elijah [Gonzales] came off of the bench and really sparked us and found guys in the first half and he played with confidence in the second half. Julian [Powell] had a breakout party. I think he was really really good today, playing through fatigue because he hadn't been getting a lot of minutes in prior games. Mamadou [Ndiaye] was also a spark for us off of the bench, playing through an injury."
Julian Powell (Baytown, TX/Lee College/Goose Creek Memorial) hit his first career shot behind the arc, getting Saint Peter's on the board after falling behind early. Still trailing, the Peacocks got layups from Davauhnte Turner (Simsboro, LA/Independence CC/Gambling HS) and Samuel Idowu (Brooklyn, NY/Lafayette Educational Complex), and a basket by Griffin, knotting the game at 11-11. The Peacocks tied the game two more times at 14 and 16 before Powell's baseline jumper gave Saint Peter's its first lead of 19-18 with just under 11 minutes on the clock. Elijah Gonzales (Portland, OR/Clackamas) dished out the next two dimes, helping to extend the Peacock lead to 23-19. His first assists came from a no look feed into the paint to Mamadou Ndiaye (Laurel, MD/Oakland Mills) who threw down a two-handed slam dunk. On the next possession, Gonzales drove to the basket and kicked it out to a wide open Turner for a three-pointer, to extend on the lead. Lafayette got to within one-point of the Peacocks when the score hit 25-24, with 6:02 left, but the Peacocks went on a 6-0 run over the next three minutes, extending the lead to 31-24. The Peacock lead was cut to two points on two more occasions in the half, but Griffin drained a three-pointer with under one minute remaining to extend the lead to 36-31, and Turner hit two free throws with two seconds left to give the Peacocks a 38-35 halftime lead. Eight different Peacocks scored at least two points in the opening 20 minutes, led by Powell and Griffin with nine points each.
The second half opened up with Lafayette scoring the first five points, to overtake the lead at 40-38, but Nnamdi Enechionyia (Springfield, VA/Samford/St. James School) responded with a three, to put the Peacocks back in the lead at 41-40. Saint Peter's fell behind, 45-41 shortly after, but the Peacocks tied up the game at 45 each, behind Quinn Taylor's (Amarillo, TX/Tascosa) putback layup and a steal by Gonzales that led to a fastbreak layup by him. The game would tie again at 48-48, at 53-53, and at 57-57. Griffin would break the tie on a jumper helping the Peacocks regain the lead at 59-57. The game continued to go back and forth as each team exchanged baskets. The contest would knot up again at 60, 63, and 65. With the Peacocks trailing by one, Taylor hit two from the charity stripe to give the Peacocks a 69-68 advantage with 4:34 to play. The Peacocks lost the lead when Lafayette tied the game at 74-74, and then Griffin gave Saint Peter's the final lead change of the day after he hit a deep three from the logo, to give the Peacocks the 77-74 lead (2:15). Lafayette again got within one point but the Peacock defense forced a 30-second violation with exactly one minute remaining and on the ensuing possession, Griffin drained another trifecta, to extend the lead to 80-76. Lafayette missed a shot and intentionally fouled Griffin, where he knocked in two free throws, giving Saint Peter's a six-point edge. Things got interesting when Lafayette hit a three with 19 seconds left, cutting it back to a one-possession game (82-79). Griffin was again fouled, hitting both charity stripe shots, but again Lafayette answered with a three, this time cutting the scored to a two-point game at 84-82 with 12.6 seconds left. Griffin went to the line again, knocking in both free throws, and fortunately Lafayette missed one final three point attempt, and Taylor pulled in his 14th rebound to secure the 86-82 victory for the Peacocks. Griffin scored the Peacock's final 12 points of the game and he recorded 28 of his 37 points in the second half.
"Again, it was a total team effort today and I am just really really proud of the team," added Dunne. "Nick [Griffin] was outstanding and it feels good to finish one out against Lafayette."
Several other Peacocks had career-days along with Griffin on the afternoon. Taylor recorded the first double-double of his career and the first of the season by a Saint Peter's player. His 12 points set a new career scoring mark for him and his 14 rebounds were also a career-best. Gonzales' four assists led the team and was a season-high for the freshman. Powell set new career-highs of nine points, five rebounds, and two blocks as well in 25 minutes of action.
Nine different Peacocks scored at least two points for the first time this season. The Peacocks shot 30-60 (50%) from the field, 11-27 (40.7%) from long range, and scored 16 second chance points from 12 offensive rebounds.
The Peacocks are back in action when the team opens up their home slate on Wednesday, November 29, at 7pm against Fairleigh Dickinson.