JERSEY CITY, NJ – The Saint Peter's men's basketball team throttled Siena College 65-48 on Sunday afternoon's Senior Day game at the Yanitelli Center, closing out the regular season with their first pair of back-to-back league wins. The win for the Peacocks locked up the No. 9 seed in the upcoming Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Basketball Championship and improved the team's final conference record to 6-12.
Nine out of the 10 players that saw action for Saint Peter's (12-17, 6-12 MAAC) in the win logged at least two points. Cameron Jones (Fairless Hills, PA/Pennsbury) led all scorers and tied his season-high with 14 points. Elijah Gonzales (Portland, OR/Clackamas) earned his first career double-double scoring 10 points and handing out a career-best 10 assists. Quinn Taylor (Amarillo, TX/Tascosa) matched Gonzales with 10 points of his own and the senior duo of Nnamdi Enechionyia (Springfield, VA/Samford/St. James School) and Nick Griffin (Rockville, MD/George Washington/Col. Zadok Magruder) combined to score 14 points in their final home game at the Yanitelli Center.
Siena (8-23, 4-14 MAAC) had two players score in double figures in the defeat, with Kadeem Smithen leading the way with 11 points followed by Prince Oduro's 10 points.
The Peacocks and Saints went back and forth early on with four lead changes occurring before Siena jumped out to a 19-12 lead over the Peacocks. The Peacocks responded by going on a 7-0 run that knotted the game at 19-19 by the final media break of the half. Following the break, Saint Peter's added another seven points to their run, extending the stretch to 14-0 and taking a 26-19 lead over Siena with just three seconds left in the half. Smithen hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from just beyond the arc to make the score 26-22 heading into the break. Prior to the buzzer-beater, the Peacocks held Siena without a field goal for the final 6:42 of the half.
To start the second half, Siena cut Saint Peter's lead to one-point (28-27), but the Peacocks responded with six straight points and a 9-2 run that put the Peacocks ahead 37-29 after Jones hit a corner 3-pointer. The lead grew to double-figures following an Enechionyia 3-point jumper that extended the advantage to 44-32, forcing a Siena timeout. The Peacocks kept their foot on the gas, as Jones drained back-to-back trifectas to push the lead to 18-points (57-39). Baskets in the final minutes by Griffin, Gonzales, Samuel Idowu (Brooklyn, NY/Lafayette Educational Complex), and walk-on Amir Hicks (Paterson, NJ/St. Mary's) contributed to the final score of 65-48.
After turning the ball over 12 times in the first half, leading to 14 points for Siena, the Peacocks only had four mishaps in the second half. Saint Peter's league-leading defense forced Siena to shoot under 35 percent from both the field and behind the 3-point line. The Peacocks defense also held their second-straight opponent to under 50 points for the first time since 2009-10 when that Peacock team held Marist to 39 points and Iona to 49 points in consecutive games.
Saint Peter's will head to the Times Union Center in Albany, NY for the 2018 MAAC Basketball Championship. The Peacocks will face hOURglass Rival, No. 8 Monmouth, on Thursday, March 1 at 5 p.m. in the first round.