LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ – The Saint Peter's men's basketball team led for 39 minutes, but déjà vu struck, and for the third consecutive game, the Peacocks fell after leading at halftime. This time, it was a 63-60 loss to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) hOURglass Rival, Rider, on Friday night. The Peacocks (8-12, 2-7 MAAC) have now dropped five straight games.
Samuel Idowu (Brooklyn, NY/Lafayette Educational Complex) scored a game-high 16 points and Elijah Gonzales (Portland, OR/Clackamas) tallied 14 to lead the Peacocks on the night. Nick Griffin (Rockville, MD/George Washington/Col. Zadok Magruder) scored eight points and Davauhnte Turner (Simsboro, LA/Independence CC/Gambling HS) added seven for Saint Peter's.
Rider (15-7, 8-2 MAAC) had three players score in double figures. Tyere Marshall was the team leading scorer with 16 points to match Idowu as the game's top scorers, and both Dimencio Vaughn and Frederick Scott chipped in with 13 points each.
"We played, I think a really good 35 minutes and we're still not at the point yet where we can close out games," said head coach John Dunne. "We were up seven, and they made one or two, and I think we had a good look on the rim in the one, then after that, we missed and then we had four turnovers. You can't turn it over."
The Peacocks scored layups on the first three possessions, two by Idowu and one by Nnamdi Enechionyia (Springfield, VA/Samford/St. James School), giving them a 6-0 advantage. Five straight transition points by Griffin extended the Saint Peter's lead to 12-4 by the first media break. By the second stoppage of the half, Saint Peter's led 14-4 and held Rider scoreless for over 5:30 on 2-13 (15.4%) shooting from the field and 0-5 shooting from 3-point range. The Peacocks extended the Broncs scoring drought to over eight minutes before allowing a basket. The Peacocks lead grew to its largest in the half when the team upped the score to 22-6. By that point, the Peacocks had forced five turnovers and held Rider to 16.7% shooting from the field and 0% from long range. The Peacocks took a 36-27 lead into the locker room. For the half, the Peacocks held Rider to 37.9% from the field and 33.3% from three.
Saint Peter's opened the second half with four out of five field goals coming from behind the arc, powered by two from Gonzales, one from Turner and one from Jones, leading to a 50-43 edge. The half continued to go back and forth, with the Peacocks always maintaining a two possession lead or more. With a seven-point lead by the final media timeout, Rider pulled off an eight point rally that gave them a 59-58 lead, their first of the night, with just 1:18 left. Two straight turnovers by Griffin led to Rider going up 61-58 after free throws. Gonzales cut the game to one point, 61-60, after some free throws of his own, but after an intentional foul, and two more free throws by Rider, the Peacocks trailed, 63-60 with 9.0 seconds to go. The Peacocks pushed the ball up court and Gonzales found Griffin in the near corner, who got a good look and got the shot up, but it rimmed out, ending the game.
"We all have to learn and get better from it," said Dunne. "Sometimes you have to go through these growing pains. Clearly we aren't happy with our overall record in the MAAC but tonight gives me a lot of optimism about our group, because I wasn't sure where we were going after a subpar performance against Manhattan. I thought we competed with a lot of passion and I thought we had a team first attitude tonight and we just have to learn how to execute down the stretch."
The Peacocks were outrebounded by just one (35-34) but the difference tonight was second chance points where the Peacocks were outscored 23-11.
The Peacocks remain away from the Yanitelli Center as the team travels to Albany, NY for a meeting on Monday, January 29 with Siena at 7 p.m.