Every year in “March Madness” there seems to be a story that inspires basketball lovers and sports fans from around the world. In recent years underdog teams have made impressive runs, like Loyola Chicago, an 11th seed team, which made it to the final four, or sixteenth-seed UMBC which took down the number one seed Virginia.
The Cinderella run in this year’s March Madness belonged to Saint Peter’s Peacocks, a small school from Jersey with nothing to lose but everything to prove.
Saint Peter’s isn’t known for basketball or any sports for that matter. And after a fairly average regular season, no one was expecting much.
The Peacocks held a tight roster of 15 players coming into the 2021-2022 college season, with many returning players including six sophomores. Saint Peter’s also had returning head coach — Shaheen Holloway coming back for his fourth year. With many returning players and not too many new additions, the media wasn’t prepared for a surprise.
Then they suddenly ended the season on a seven game win streak and got a hold of some silverware by winning the 2022 MACC championship, which secured them a spot as the fifteenth seed in the 2022 NCAA championship tournament, March Madness.
In the eyes of Peacocks fans, simply making it to march madness felt like a win already. In the eyes of the Peacocks players, they had much bigger ambitions.
But facing the tough second seed Kentucky, nobody gave Saint Peter’s a sliver of a chance to win, but the first game of the season made everyone sit up and pay attention.
Of course being the underdogs the Peacocks came into the game with a do-or-die mentality. The game began and both teams started trading buckets and by the time the first half ended to everyone’s surprise the game was tied at 37 points apiece. Saint Peter’s seemed to be doing something to throw Kentucky’s defense off by using multiple back cuts to get in behind the defender to get to the hoop. Towards the end of the second half the peacocks still found themselves in a competitive game.
Down by two points with 26 seconds left on the clock, Peacocks gave the ball to star bench player Doug Edert who came up big with a runner in the paint to tie the game up with twenty seconds left. All the Peacocks needed to do now was shut down Kentucky for one possession to send it to overtime. With 1.9 seconds left, star Kentucky guard Tyty Washington Jr, threw up a contested midrange jumper to win but missed everything, sending the game to overtime.
In a gutty overtime period the Peacocks were able to come up with a gritty win. In the end Darryl Banks III poured in 27 points throughout the game and sixth man Doug Edert scored 20 points off the bench including two clutch free throws with 7.4 seconds remaining to put the Peacocks up six to close out the game.
In the second round, Saint Peter’s faced off against the well-rounded Saint Murray side who also couldn’t figure out Saint Peters’ gameplan.
Then when reaching the sweet sixteen they faced the tough third seed Purdue. This game was different because Saint Peters seemed to struggle a bit in the first half, but after the shaky start the Peacocks came strutting back with an impressive second half and taking down the third seed Purdue.
But, every good story needs an ending and that ending happened in the elite eight against a tough North Carolina team.
Saint Peters struggled terribly in the first half shooting a horrendous percentage. They picked it up a bit in the second but it wasn’t enough to bring it back and ended up losing by 19 points. The North Carolina Tar Heels ended up making it to the championship game but lost to a stacked number one seed Kansas.
“Kind of wish we could play this game over. I would have done a couple things differently,” Saint Peters Shaheen Holloway to Insider after the final game against North Carolina that ended the historic run.
Junior player Doug Edert, who played a major part in the Peacock’s success, was feeling grateful after the run. “I want to start by thanking my family, friends, coaches, teammates and Peacock Nation,” he said.
The highs and lows of sports is what makes millions of sports fans love it and give kids at home a chance to believe it could be them rocking their favorite players jerseys. It’s what the Saint Peter’s Peacocks gave to millions of kids around the world: hope.