Still dancing: No. 15 seed St. Peter's struts to Sweet 16 with win over Murray State

·3 min read

On Thursday, St. Peter's stunned Kentucky to become the 10th No. 15 seed to win a men's NCAA tournament game.

On Saturday, it joined truly rarified air. In a second-round matchup with No. 7 Murray State, the Peacocks picked up where they left off with a 70-60 win over the Racers to secure an unlikely Sweet 16 bid. And like on Thursday, this was no fluke. St. Peter's was the better team from the opening tip.

The Peacocks never trailed Murray State. They opened a 32-27 halftime lead then scored the first eight points of the second half as if to announce to their doubters that this was actually happening. Murray State cut the deficit on multiple occasions, but St. Peter's had an answer every time.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 19: Clarence Rupert #12 of the St. Peter's Peacocks reacts in the second half against the Murray State Racers during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on March 19, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Clarence Rupert (12) of St. Peter's reacts during the second half against Murray State on Saturday. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Now, a Murray State team that entered Saturday at 31-2 is going home with its third loss of the season and its first after 21 straight wins. St. Peter's, meanwhile, is making plans to travel next weekend to a Philadelphia regional 90 miles south of its Jersey City, New Jersey, campus. The winner of Sunday's game between Texas and Purdue awaits.

With the win, St. Peter's becomes the third No. 15 seed to ever advance to the tournament's second weekend. "Dunk City" Florida Gulf Coast was the first to do so in 2013. Oral Roberts repeated the feat just last year. Now St. Peter's joins the exclusive club.

"It's an amazing ride," head coach Shaheen Holloway told CBS after the game. "How 'bout that. ... I told these guys all year nobody works harder than them. The stuff I put these guys through — this is easy. Practice is tough. Kudos to these guys. They deserve it."

The party back home appropriately marked the occasion.

Senior forward KC Ndefo led the way for St. Peter's, tallying 17 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks, including this late swat to punctuate the win.

Junior guard Doug Edert added 13 points off the bench, including this late 3-pointer to stifle a Murray State rally.

As a team, St. Peter's limited Murray State to 34.6% shooting from the floor, won the rebounding battle, 38-31, and the turnover margin, 12-10. As previously noted, it was the better team all around on Saturday.

The Peacocks will face another tough test against a power conference team in Philadelphia. But that's a worry for next week. For now, the moment belongs to St. Peter's.