Texas A&M-Corpus Christi jumped out to a big lead early in front of its home crowd. As it turned out, Saint Peter’s had the Islanders just where they wanted them and pulled out a 62-61 victory on the road to win the CIT.
Saint Peter’s was in danger of being run out of the gym early. With less than eight minutes to play in the first half, the Peacocks had scored only 11 points and trailed by 12. But Saint Peter’s clamped down defensively and didn’t allow the Islanders to score for nearly six and a half minutes. In the meantime, the Peacocks scored 15 straight \to take a three-point lead. A Sam Idowu three-pointer capped the run.
Texas A&M-CC was able to recover and took a two-point lead into halftime, but the damage was already done.
Though the Peacocks were able to build a lead in the second half, Texas A&M-CC was able to tie the game with three seconds to play on three free throws from Cole Martinez. After a timeout, Trevis Wyche was fouled under the basket as he went for the game-winner. Wyche knocked down the first free throw before intentionally missing the second to ice the game for Saint Peter’s.
The comeback win on Friday night was not an uncommon occurrence in Saint Peter’s’ CIT championship run. The Peacocks launched successful comeback efforts on the road against both Albany and Texas State earlier in the tournament. So, when they found themselves down early on the road on Friday night, they already had the blueprint for a win.
The Peacocks were able to turn defense into offense with a fair amount of success. Saint Peter’s forced 13 Islander turnovers, leading to 18 points. MAAC Defensive Player of they Year Chazz Patterson finished with three steals and a block to anchor the Peacock defense.
Senior leadership was a major factor for Saint Peter’s in the victory as well. While Patterson led the defensive effort, fellow seniors Cavon Baker, Quadir Welton, and Wyche created most of the offense. The three were the only Peacock players to reach double figure scoring on the evening. Baker led the team overall with 15 points while Welton recorded a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Welton was also named MVP of the CIT following the championship game.
Saint Peter’s finishes the season as CIT champions and a 23-13 record. The Peacocks won 11 of their final 12 games, including the four games in the CIT. They will need to replace much of the core from their second-place MAAC team next season, but they can enjoy the CIT championship for now.
Texas A&M-CC, on the other hand, lost in the CIT for the fourth consecutive season. However, this year’s tournament run was the deepest the Islanders have made in those four appearances. They lose senior Rashawn Thomas, who scored 20 points and pulled down 13 rebounds in Friday’s championship game. But the Islanders should still have a solid foundation to compete in the Southland next year.