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Men’s Basketball Seeks First National Tournament Title on Friday Night

JERSEY CITY, NJ – The Saint Peter’s men’s basketball team’s magical season has one more run, as the Peacocks advanced to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) championship on Wednesday night by defeating Furman University, 77-51. The win for the Peacocks improves the team’s overall record to 22-13, and the team claims a spot in a national postseason tournament championship game for the first time in its history.

Nnamdi Enechionyia (Springfield, VA/St. James School (Samford)) scored a season-high of 18 points, knocking down his season best four trifectas on five attempts. Quadir Welton (Philadelphia, PA/Math, Civics and Science Charter) recorded his eighth double-double of the season, grabbing a career-high 16 rebounds and scoring 11 points. Chazz Patterson (Browns Mills, NJ/Trenton Catholic) and Antwon Portley (Lancaster, TX/Lancaster) each added 13 points, while Trevis Wyche (Neptune, NJ/Saint Peter’s Prep) tied his season-high in assists with nine dimes.

The Peacocks got out to a hot start, scoring the games first 15 points led by Welton and Portley with six points each, highlighted by Portley’s back-to-back threes to extend the advantage to 15-0. By the second media timeout, the Peacocks held a 17-3 lead, holding Furman to 1-of-11 shooting from the field, 0-of-4 shooting from the field, and forcing four turnovers during that stretch. After the Paladins cut the score to 17-6, the Peacocks offense picked right back up as the team went on a 17-2 run with Patterson logging eight points on two made three-point field goals and Enechionyia adding four points, to extend their lead to 34-8 with just under four minutes to play in the half. Furman closed the gap, outscoring Saint Peter’s, 11-3 in final 2:48 of the half, bringing the halftime score to 37-19. The Peacocks dominated on both sides of the ball as their offense exploded for 14-of-25 (56.0%) shooting from the field and 7-of-15 (46.7%) shooting from long range and their defense held Furman to a stifling 7-of-28 (25.0%) shooting from the field and 3-of-11 (27.3%) shooting from three. The Peacocks made as many three-pointers as Furman made field goal in the half.

Furman opened the half on an 8-2 run, extending their run from the first half to 19-5 and cutting the score to 39-27, forcing coach John Dunne into a timeout. Out of the timeout, the Peacocks went on a tear, putting together a 21-4 run over the next six and a half minutes, powered by lights-out shooting from Enechionyia, who scored 14 of the 21 points on four made threes, and scoring 11 straight Peacock points in the middle of the run. The run extended the Peacocks lead over Furman to 60-31, giving Saint Peter’s their largest lead of the night at 29 points. Holding a 62-34 lead, Furman got things going on the offensive end, scoring the games next nine points to cut the Peacocks lead to under 20 points at 62-43 with 8:18 remaining. The Peacocks ended the drought, hitting the next five out of six free throws, extending the lead back over 20 points (67-45). With five minutes left in the contest, Welton snagged his career-best 15th rebound and scored his 11th point on the ensuing possession with a baseline slam dunk, to record his team-leading eighth double-double of the season and extending the lead to 71-47. Portley put the exclamation point on the win with his fourth three-pointer of the night, and walk-on and crowd favorite, J.R. William made his first career basket on an open three, making the final tally, 77-51. The Peacocks shot an identical 14-of-25 (56.0%) from the field in the second half as they did in the first and hit 50% of their trifectas, knocking down 6-of-12 in the half. The team forced Furman into 10 turnovers, on eight steals in the second half.

The Peacocks shot better than 48% from downtown (13-27) and dished out more assists (21) than Furman made field goals (19) on the night. For the game, the Peacocks never allowed Furman to lead or tie the contest as the Peacocks led for over 38 minutes, and outrebounded Furman (38-24), had more points off of turnovers (18-12), and bench outscored Furman’s (25-3).

Furman’s season came to an end with an overall record of 23-12, becoming the Peacock’s 10th victim in their last 11 games. The Paladins had Devin Sibley score a game-high 20 points, followed by Daniel Fowler and Kris Acox who scored 14 and 11 points respectively.

The Peacocks have a quick turnaround, as they will play in the CIT championship on Friday, March 31 at 9p.m. in Texas, taking on Texas A&M Corpus Christi. The championship game will be telecasted live on CBS Sports Network.