Jersey City, NJ - Saint Peter’s jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. The Peacocks posted a resounding 63-36 victory over Niagara on Sunday at Run Baby Run Arena. The win improved Saint Peter’s (14-11) to 12-6 in the MAAC. The Peacocks have a first-round bye in the MAAC Tournament next week in Atlantic City. Niagara (12-15) fell to 7-11 in conference. The points of emphasis:
Fast start. Saint Peter’s came out with energy racing out to a 9-0 lead and never looking back. Niagara did not score a field goal until 12 minutes remained in the first half. "Coach (Holloway) always tells us if you start slow you have to work extra hard to get back," Daryl Banks III of Saint Peter’s said. "We made sure we came out strong and kept it up." Saint Peter’s limited Niagara to six field goals en route to a 31-16 lead at intermission.
Defense. On the afternoon the Purple Eagles were held to 24% shooting from the field, including 3 of 15 (20%) from long range. It was a solid, concerted effort on the part of Saint Peter’s from opening tip to final buzzer. "We concentrated on (Niagara’s) Marcus Hammond," Hassan Drame noted. "We were determined to let someone else try to beat us." Hammond wound up with 14 points to lead Niagara. Hammond shot 5 of 17 from the floor and was the Purple Eagles lone double figure scorer. Saint Peter’s coach Shaheen Holloway also added," the second half of the season we have been at our absolute best when we are playing great defense. When all of our guys are out there defending."
Limit turnovers. The turnover situation has been a problem for the Peacocks this season. On the game they committed just 11, a noticeable improvement over some recent outings. "We did have some turnovers," Holloway admitted, "but not many of the unforced type. Today I feel we made a great effort to share the ball." Saint Peter’s assisted on 15 of their 27 field goals. Making that extra pass and looking for open teammates, especially attacking the basket, has been a trait with Holloway’s club. Not just today but for virtually every outing this season.
Numbers. In a 63 possession game Saint Peter’s showed an offensive efficiency of 100. Niagara was limited to an efficiency of 57. On the season the Purple Eagles are averaging an efficiency of 98 in MAAC play.
Saint Peter’s shot 47% from the field, only 15% from three. Peacocks were led by Daryl Banks III with 13 points. Saint Peter’s crashed the boards to a 46-27 rebounding edge. They showed a 36-17 advantage in offensive rebounding percentage. Hassan Drame led the way with 10 rebounds (6 offensive).
Saint Peter’s visits Manhattan on Tuesday. Niagara hosts Siena on Thursday. Among those in attendance on Hall of Fame Day at Saint Peter’s was Joe Whalen. His son Ryan is an assistant on Holloway’s staff. Joe’s St. Thomas High School (Edison, NJ) girls team recently won the Greater Middlesex County championship. Also, Ron Naclerio, long time coach at Cardozo High School in New York was to see Hammond who played for him in high school. MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor and legendary Saint Peter’s women’s coach Mike Granelli were also on hand.