BUFFALO, NY – The Saint Peter's men's basketball team continues to make history, as the team locked up a second place finish in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) regular season, a feat Saint Peter's has not accomplished since the 1988-89 season. The Peacocks won their sixth straight game by defeating Canisius College, 72-65, on Sunday afternoon, extending the program-single season MAAC record to 14 wins. The six game win streak is the most for a Peacock team since the 1995-96 season, when that Saint Peter's squad won nine straight games from December 6 to January 3. The men also earned a sweep on the Western New York trip for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
Five Peacocks scored in double figures in the winning effort with Nnamdi Enechionyia (Springfield, VA/St. James School (Samford)) and Trevis Wyche (Neptune, NJ/Saint Peter's Prep) leading the way with 12 points each. Nick Griffin (Rockville, MD/Col. Zadok Magruder (George Washington)) and Antwon Portley (Lancaster, TX/Lancaster) both scored 11 points, while Quadir Welton (Philadelphia, PA / Math, Civics and Science Charter) added 10 points.
Canisius top scorers on the evening were Jermaine Crumpton who tallied a game-high 14 points, and Phil Valenti who added 11 points.
"I think we did a pretty good job of taking care of the basketball in the second half," said head coach John Dunne. "They (Canisius) had us out of rhythm the whole game for the most part with their pressure, then their zone took us out of rhythm, but wee ended up making a couple of nice plays in the end and held on to win."
The Peacocks opened up the game on an 11-0 run with four of the five starters scoring a basket in the stretch (Enechionyia, Griffin, Welton, three points each, and Wyche two points) with a little under four minutes played. Over the next four minutes of action, Canisius cut into the Peacock lead, outscoring Saint Peter's 11-4 to cut the Peacock lead to 15-11. Canisius got the game to as close as three-points, 24-21, with a little over eight minutes to go, before the Peacocks reeled off the next seven points, extending the lead back to double figures at 31-21 with 4:33 left in the half. At the final media break of the half, the Peacocks lead was cut down to 34-28 with 2:14 left. The Peacocks added three to the board, while Canisuis added five, making it a 37-33 score at the break. Enechionyia scored all of his12 points in the first half to lead led all scorers. Both teams hit six three-point field goals in the first half and the Peacocks shot 52.0 percent (13-25) from the field.
Chazz Patterson (Browns Mills, NJ/Trenton Catholic) got on the board to start the second half with a far corner three-pointer, pushing the Peacock's lead to 40-33. With the score at 43-40, the Peacocks opened up a 7-0 run behind baskets by Portley, Griffin, and Cavon Baker (Queens, NY / New Hope Academy [Md.] (Houston)), putting the lead back to 10 points at 50-40 (13:10). Canisius responded to the Peacock run, outscoring Saint Peter's 10-5 over the next five and a half minutes, cutting the score to 55-50 with 7:42 left. Both teams added four points, keeping the Peacock five-point lead firm at 59-54 with 3:36 remaining in the game. Canisius got to within one point, 59-58, but a three-pointer by Portley, extended the lead back to two possessions at 62-58 with 1:39 left. Wyche scored the next basket on a transition layup, extending the lead to 64-58, but Canisius responed with a three, cutting in back to 64-61 with 1:19 remaining. On the ensuing possession, Welton made a layup, to give the Peacocks some cushion and a 66-61 edge with under a minute to play. Patterson and Wyche hit two free throws each to extend the Peacocks lead to 70-63 and a dunk by Welton sealed the victory at 72-65. The Peacocks shot an identical 13-25 (52.0%) from the field in the second half just as they did in the first half.
"They had a really sluggish start to the game, and then I didn't think we were great either, even though we made shots early," added Dunne. "I thought we were just throwing it to them a few times. I think both teams settled into the game in the second half and I am just fortunate to come out with the win."
For the second straight game, the Peacocks never trailed, as they held the lead over Canisius for 39:30 in the win. During the six games win streak, the Peacocks trailed in just two of the six games, and have only trailed for a total of 2:56 minutes in the possible 240 minutes. The Peacocks also forced Canisius into 12 turnovers on seven steals, converting those into 22 points.
The men's basketball team finished the month of February with a 6-2 overall record, marking the best February under John Dunne and making the team 13-5 over the last two months combined (7-3 in January) giving Dunne his most wins and best winning percentage (72.2%) in any two-month stretch of his career.
The Peacocks will head to the Times Union Center in Albany, NY for the 2017 MAAC Championship. The Peacocks will be the No. 2 seed, and they will play on Friday, March 3 at 9:30pm vs. the winner of No. 7 Canisius and No. 10 Marist.