JERSEY CITY, NJ – Saint Peter's, the top defensive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) team, overpowered and outplayed Niagara University, the top offensive MAAC team, leading to a 58-52 win in the Yanitelli Center on Friday night. Saint Peter's only trailed for .28 seconds and held double digits leads on five separate occasions in the win. The Peacock snapped a six-game losing streak and earned a season series split with Niagara for the fifth straight season.
The Saint Peter's (9-13, 3-8 MAAC) defense trumped Niagara's (14-10, 7-4) offense by a landslide, having forced Niagara to season lows in most offensive categories. The Peacocks held the Purple Eagles to their lowest field percentage (.271), lowest point total in a half (18 points) in the first half, lowest game point total (52), and second lowest 3-point field goal percentage (.179) and assists total (6). Niagara came into the game averaging 83.6 points per game and its previous season-low for total points was 72, which came in a win at Manhattan on January 24, 20 points more than the Peacocks held them to on Friday night. In addition to the Peacocks forcing the Purple Eagles into offensive season lows across the board, the Peacocks also set a team-best for points allowed in a game this season (52). The Niagara tandem of Kahlil Dukes and Matt Scott, who ranked second and third on the MAAC scoring chart respectively, combined scoring average was 41.8 points per game but they were held to a combined point total of 26 points on the night.
Nick Griffin (Rockville, MD/George Washington/Col. Zadok Magruder) scored a game-high 20 points, on a perfect night at the charity stripe and on 50 percent shooting from 3-point. Samuel Idowu (Brooklyn, NY/Lafayette Educational Complex) grabbed a Peacock-best seven rebounds and followed Griffin with 12 points. Quinn Taylor (Amarillo, TX/Tascosa) scored nine points and handed out a team-best of three assists, and added six rebounds.
Niagara's only lead of the night was 1-0 after Scott hit one free-throw. Following the made free-throw, the Peacocks went on a 8-0 run, and then extended the run to 14-3 after Griffin knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Peacocks the first 10-point lead of 14-4. Niagara never got closer than seven points and trifecta by Cameron Jones (Fairless Hills, PA/Pennsbury) put Saint Peter's back up by double-figures, leading 23-13. By the break, the Peacocks held a 25-18 advantage, holding Niagara to its lowest half of season by 10 points, as it was previously 28 on November 19 at UMass. This also marked the second straight game that Saint Peter's held the opposition to under 20 points at half (held Siena to 16 points on Monday).
The Peacocks went up by 10 for third time in game at 30-20 after Idowu connected on a long jumper. Niagara would answer with six straight, cutting Saint Peter's lead to 30-26, but Saint Peter's, on the back of Griffin's long range shooting, extended the lead back to 38-30. Saint Peter's went up 10 again after a steal by Jones led to a fast break layup by Davauhnte Turner (Simsboro, LA/Independence CC/Gambling HS) (43-33). The Peacocks opened up their largest lead of the night at 47-36, with just under nine minutes to go. Niagara used an 8-0 run to get within one possession but Saint Peter's responded keeping the lead higher than a single possession. With 1:01 left, Elijah Gonzales (Portland, OR/Clackamas) put the Peacocks up 54-48 after two made free throws, only to miss the front end of two consecutive one and ones, allowing Niagara to cut the deficit to 54-52 with 20.3 remaining. Griffin sealed the victory with four straight made free throws, giving the Peacocks the home win of 58-52.
The Peacocks continue their four-game home stand on Sunday, February 4, when the squad welcomes Canisius to Jersey City. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m.