Jersey City, NJ - The defense didn’t rest. Saint Peter’s finished the regular season in convincing fashion. The Peacocks defeated Fairfield 57-41 Saturday at Run Baby Run Arena. Saint Peter’s (16-11) improved to 14-6 in the MAAC. Fairfield (14-17) fell to 8-12. The points of emphasis:
Fairfield would not go away. Saint Peter’s enjoyed a nine point lead on several occasions, threatening to pull away. Each time the Stags answered. With eight minutes remaining, the Peacocks held a 43-39 lead with the outcome very much up for grabs.
Stretch run. Saint Peter’s closed the door the final eight minutes. During that time they limited Fairfield to two field goals. The Peacocks went on a 14-2 run over that time to seal the verdict.
Defense. Saint Peter’s defended aggressively. Some full court pressure, trapping and basic half court lock down variety. On the afternoon Fairfield shot 30% from two point range and 18% beyond the arc. "Coach is defense oriented," KC Ndefo of Saint Peter’s said." Every day in practice we stress defense." Evidently, the Peacocks are getting the message.
Numbers. Ndefo led Saint Peter’s with 14 points. Daryl Banks III added 11. Fairfield was paced by Jesus Cruz with 11 and Supreme Cook with 10. Cook also led all in the rebounding department with 8. Ndefo and Fousseyni Drane had 7 boards each for Saint Peter’s. The Peacocks shot 40% from the floor (36% from three). Coach Jay Young’s club chose to shoot from the perimeter as 38% of their field goal attempts were from long distance.
Saint Peter’s dominated points in the paint with a 30-16 edge. The Peacocks also enjoyed a 25-6 advantage in points off turnovers.
In tempo free numbers, the game was a 65 (moderate) tempo pace. Saint Peter’s would run off turnovers. For the most part they did not force the break, they ran on opportunities. Saint Peter’s posted an 83 offensive efficiency while Fairfield checked in at 63. In MAAC play Fairfield’s average efficiency is 99, Saint Peter’s is 101. Fairfield was forced into a 23% turnover rate. St, Peter’s kept it just under the 20% cutoff with a 19% showing. "Turnovers were an improvement today," coach Shaheen Holloway said. The coach hinted further improvement is still needed adding, "it (turnover prevention) is something we are working on."
Big Picture. Saint Peter’s is playing very well of late. It took some time for everything to fall into place. "We have come a long way," Holloway admitted. "We didn’t start off like we wanted to." There were the proverbial bumps in the road. Saint Peter’s worked through those bumps and stayed together. " The second half of the season we found out who we are. We are really coming together," Holloway said. "A lot of that has to do with our defense."
Next. Fairfield will play Canisius at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the opening round of the MAAC Tournament at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Saint Peter’s will play the winner of the aforementioned contest at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday.