Another Historic Club for St. Peter’s in the NCAA Tournament

Philadelphia. Daryl BanksIII scored the tying and go-ahead baskets that led to Saint Peter’sfifteenth seed, on the brink of the Final Four, and the diminutive Peacocks used home-court advantage to beat third-seeded Purdue 67-64 on Friday.

The Peacocks (22-11) became the first 15th seed to make the Elite Eight, adding the Boilermakers to their NCAA Tournament upset list, and will now face either UCLA or North Carolina in the final of the Eastern region on Sunday.

From the start, Saint Peter’s had many fans on their side inside the packed Wells Fargo Center, and the coliseum erupted when Banks tied the game at 57 with a jump shot. He hit a layup with 2:17 left that made it 59-57.

The Peacocks kept their composure — they’re used to these wins by now after beating second-seeded Kentucky and Murray State — and held off a Purdue team that tried to bully them in the paint.

“What are they going to say now?” coach Shaheen Holloway said of his team’s skeptics, a group whose numbers continue to dwindle.

The Boilermakers (29-8), who were 12 1/2-point favorites according to FanDuel Sportsbook, never led by more than six.

Nearly 30 years to the day Duke’s Christian Laettner’s overtime layup stunned Kentucky to win a regional final at the Spectrum, Purdue and Saint Peter’s pulled off their own Philadelphia classic.

Saint Peter’s fans made the 93-mile trip south to help fill the coliseum and give the Peacocks more of an advantage than they normally have at home, known as ‘Run Baby Run Arena.’ Just 434 fans were listed as the total attendance for Saint Peter’s first home game this season against LIU.

Far more than that number came to see them off campus this week on their way to the Sweet Sixteen.

Even more basketball fans, even those who had their braces broken by the Peacocks, were suddenly rooting for the small commuter college in Jersey City, New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan.

Jaden Ivey buried an NBA-distance 3-pointer with eight seconds remaining that pulled Purdue within 65-64 and momentarily silenced the crowd.

But there was no problem. Doug Edert, whose wispy mustache and quirky personality earned him a chicken fast-food endorsement deal, hit two free throws to seal the win.

The Peacocks jumped onto the press table and waved to fans in the front rows. They pushed and hugged each other, and began greeting fans and friends before gathering under the basket to celebrate, once again, the biggest victory in the history of their sports program.

Meanwhile, a ticket to the Final Four remains elusive for Boilermakers coach Matt Painter and his perennial Big Ten contenders.

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. Matthew Lee finished with seven points and three assists.

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