ALBANY, NY – The Saint Peter's men's basketball team rallied to defeat the University at Albany, 59-55 in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) on Thursday night. The win for the Peacocks improves the team's record to 20-13, the programs first 20 win season since 2010-11 and the win is also the first national postseason tournament win for Saint Peter's since the 1980 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) when that team knocked off Connecticut in the first round and then Duquesne in the second round.
Nick Griffin (Rockville, MD/Col. Zadok Magruder (George Washington)) hit a team best, three three-point field goals leading to a game-high 16 points. Quadir Welton (Philadelphia, PA / Math, Civics and Science Charter) scored 13 points and added a team-best four assists, while Trevis Wyche (Neptune, NJ/Saint Peter's Prep) pitched in with 11 points for the Peacocks in the win.
The Peacocks held the early 4-2 lead before falling behind 7-4 after Albany scored five straight points, but Wyche and Antwon Portley (Lancaster, TX/Lancaster) hit back-to-back threes at the top of the key to regain the lead at 10-8. After giving up the lead again, Saint Peter's took the 15-12 advantage after Griffin hit a three and Nnamdi Enechionyia (Springfield, VA/St. James School (Samford)) scored on a layup with nine and a half left in the half. Albany would go on an 8-0 run, to take over the lead at 20-15. The Peacocks knotted the contest again at 23 all, behind Griffin's second three of half. After tying it, the Peacocks fell behind 28-23, with Welton scoring back-to-back layups in the post to cut the Peacock deficit to 28-27 at the half. Both teams shot over 40 percent from the field in the half, which witnessed six lead changes and four ties. No team held a lead larger than five points in the first 20 minutes either; with Albany holding a five-point lead for a little over one minute, and the Peacocks posting a largest lead of three-points.
The back and forth action continued into the second half with four lead changes within the first four minutes as both teams exchanged baskets. Albany put together a 13-3 run over the next five plus minutes to gain the largest lead of night at 43-34 at the 12:46 mark forcing head coach John Dunne to call a timeout to stop the run. The Peacocks switched up the game plan, going into a full court trap and a more up-tempo offensive which slowly cut into the Albany lead. The Peacocks got to within five points following a three-pointer from Chazz Patterson (Browns Mills, NJ/Trenton Catholic) making the score, 48-43. Then Welton added a free throw and Wyche scored on a layup, to cut the deficit to one possession at 48-46. Next, Griffin hit a jumper in the paint to cut the game to just one point at 50-49, before a pair of Portley free throws would give the Peacocks a 51-50 advantage with a little over four minutes remaining, the teams first lead since 31-30 early in the second half. Albany quickly responded with a layup, taking the lead back at 52-51, but the Peacocks would score seven unanswered behind a Welton layup and a layup and a deep three-point bucket by Wyche, to give Saint Peter's the 58-52 lead with 1:47 left. Albany added a three, to cut the score to 58-55 with 1:17 on the clock. After three combined empty possessions by both teams, Albany called a timeout with 8.3 seconds left and possession of the ball to give them on last shot to tie the game. Albany missed an attempt, and Griffin recovered the rebound, getting put at the charity stripe, and hitting the back end of two free throws, securing the 59-55 win over Albany.
The game featured 13 lead changes and five ties. Both teams were pretty much identical in all the battles with Saint Peter's winning the points in the paint battle (24-22), Albany won the rebounding battle (30-29), both teams got an identical 12 points from their benches and two fast break points each. The difference in the game was the turnover battle as the Peacocks forced the Great Danes into 12 turnovers and only committed a season-low four turnovers on the night. The 12 takeaways led to the Peacocks winning the points off of turnovers battle (16-5).
Albany's sixth straight postseason comes to an end with a record of 21-14. The Great Danes were led offensively by David Nichols with a team-high 15 points, Joe Cremo who scored 13 points, and Greig Stire who posted 10 points in the losing effort.
With the Peacocks as the No. 3 seed in the tournament, the team gets an automatic bye into the quarterfinals. The Peacocks will resume action in the quarterfinal any date between March 24-26 and will find out their next opponent at the conclusion of the second round between March 18-20.