1st seeded No. 5 Saint Peter in Elite Eight, edges out Purdue 67-64

Daryl Banks III scored the tying and go-ahead baskets that pushed 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s to the brink of the Final Four, with the tiny Peacocks taking advantage of homecourt advantage to beat third-seeded Purdue 67-64 Friday night.

The Peacocks (22-11) became the first 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight, adding the Boilermakers to their NCAA Tournament upset streak, and will face either UCLA or North Carolina in the region final. East Sunday.

Saint Peter’s had the fans inside the Wells Fargo Center packed for his side from the opening tip and the arena erupted when Banks tied the game 57-all on a turnover jumper. He hit a driving layup with 2:17 left, which made it 59-57.

The Peacocks kept their cool – hey, they’re used to those wins now after knocking out No. 2 seeds Kentucky and Murray State – and held off a Purdue team that tried to bully them at the inside.

“What are they going to say now?” coach Shaheen Holloway spoke about his team’s doubters, a group whose numbers are dwindling.

Almost 30 years to the day since Duke buzzer-beater Christian Laettner stunned Kentucky to win a regional final at the Shaved Spectrum since, Purdue (29-8) and Saint Peter’s have pulled off their own Philly classic.

Saint Peter fans traveled 93 miles south to help pack the arena and give the Peacocks more of an edge than they usually get in their music box known as Run Baby Run Arena. Consider that just 434 fans were listed as the total attendance for Saint Peter’s home opener this season against LIU.

More fans than that turned out to give the team a Sweet 16 send-off from campus this week.

Even more basketball fans — yes, even those whose parentheses are helped by the Peacocks — have suddenly been rooting for the tiny suburban college in Jersey City, New Jersey, just across the Hudson River ever since. Lower Manhattan.

Purdue’s Jaden Iven buried an NBA 3 distance with 8 seconds left that shot Purdue to 65-64 and momentarily silenced the crowd.

Carefree. Doug Edert, whose wispy mustache and goofy personality earned him a fast food chicken endorsement deal, sank two free throws to seal the victory.

The Peacocks jumped onto the press table and waved to the fans in the front rows. They huddled and hugged each other and began waving to fans and friends before gathering at the basket to celebrate – once again – the biggest win in program history.

Banks led the Peacocks with 14 points, Clarence Rupert scored 11 and Edert had 10. Trevion Williams had 16 points and eight rebounds for Purdue.

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