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We all expected the miraculous run to come to an end. Well, maybe “we” didn’t, but I sure did.
Most Cinderella stories in the NCAA tournament eventually come to their inevitable conclusion much earlier than the fans of college basketball would like. The sheer size of the blue blood programs, chock full with big-time recruits, always winds up being the downfall of the double-digit tournament seed.
But not this time. Not this tournament.
On Friday night, tiny Saint Peter’s of Jersey City, New Jersey, continued their improbable run, becoming the first 15-seed to advance to the Elite Eight after beating 3-seed Purdue 67-64.
Jaden Ivey’s three-point attempt came up short at the buzzer, setting off the celebration, and allowing small schools across the country to dream big.
THE ST. PETER’S PEACOCKS HAVE DONE IT
FIRST EVER 15-SEED TO ADVANCE TO THE ELITE EIGHT 🤯 pic.twitter.com/H8FMQJPrr5
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 26, 2022
“I got a bunch of guys that just play basketball and have fun. That’s all we do,” Saint Peter’s Coach Shaheen Holloway said after the game.
It was the defense that got the job done for the Peacocks, forcing 15 Purdue turnovers and a 5 of 21 shooting night from beyond the arc.
“What they gonna say now? Anybody got something to say?” Holloway said after the game. “We can’t do this, we can’t do that, cinderella, underdogs. Listen, I got guys that just play basketball. I got a bunch of guys that just play basketball and have fun, that’s all we do.”
There wasn’t an incredible offensive performance from one individual, or a scorching hot shooting night from the floor. Instead, it was solid defense and clutch free throws when they mattered the most.
Three Saint Peter’s players scored in double figures, including 10 points from a new March Madness favorite in Doug Edert. On the night, Saint Peter’s was 19-21 from the charity stripe, knocking down their final 11 attempts to secure their third massive upset of the tournament.
“We’re happy, but make no mistake, we’re not satisfied at all,” Edert said. “We’re not finished, and we feel like we belong.
“Obviously we have a lot more fans now than we did a few weeks ago, but it doesn’t change the way we play out on the floor,” he continued. “We didn’t play any different tonight than we would have even if there weren’t any fans in the building.”
The Peacocks advance to the Elite Eight to take on another blue blood program in North Carolina, after the Tar Heels 73-66 win over UCLA on Friday night.
Much like the Peacocks’ first two NCAA opponents, the Boilermakers left the arena in a state of shock.
“I’m honestly still in shock,” senior forward Trevion Williams said. “It just doesn’t feel real. I just wish we could have played a little bit better, like Coach said. Man, you’ve got to give them their respect. That’s a real team. If you don’t respect them, you’ll be outplayed kind of like we did today.”
“I mean, honestly like my mind is blank right now,” senior guard Sasha Stefanovic said after the game. “I can’t recall exactly what happened. They made plays down the stretch, and we made some fouls, unnecessarily fouls, and it cost us. Credit to them, they made their free throws and executed down the stretch and played good defense.”
In the other Sweet 16 matchups, one-seed Kansas knocked off four-seed Providence 66-61, and 10-seed Miami ended Iowa State’s incredible bounce-back season in a 70-56 victory.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected]
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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