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CIT Semifinals: St. Peter’s routs Furman in a night to remember

March 30, 2017 Columns No Comments

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – It was a historic night, a night ending in a celebration the fans and followers did not want to end.

St.Peter’s was playing in the semifinals of a national tournament for the first time since 1968. They handily defeated Furman 77-51 in the CIT semifinals at Yanitelli Center. Now another chapter of history will be entered in the books as St. Peter’s will appear in their first championship final. The Peacocks visit Texas A & M Corpus Christi Friday evening with a CIT title on the line.

The points of emphasis:

  1. 1. St. Peter’s scored the game’s first 15 points. Right off the opening tip their offense was in high gear. “We had a few recent games where we started off slow on the offensive end,” St. Peter’s coach John Dunne said. “Tonight we came out, made good decisions and were aggressive on offense.”
  2. The defense was sound. A staple and identity of St. Peter’s is their dedication to defense. Furman came in with a high-powered offense showing an outstanding 107 offensive efficiency. On this evening the OE was 77 as the Paladins were forced into a 37 percent shooting night. They also committed 14 turnovers, a 21 percent TO rate. “Our defensive effort and energy were great,” Dunne said.
  3. Responding. Furman trailed by 26 in the latter part of the first half. Interim head coach Bob Richey saw his club regroup and cut the deficit to 12 early in the final half. St. Peter’s quickly regrouped and answered the run to quickly push the lead back to 19.
  4. The home crowd. Fans do not put points on the board nor get stops, but having an enthusiastic crowd in front of you can have an effect by energizing your players. “I have been to a lot of arenas,” Dunne said, “but tonight the fans were as loud as it gets.” To a St. Peter’s player, they enjoyed the support. Especially with some notable basketball alumni in the house.

St. Peter’s got one more celebration on their home floor in the CIT semifinals (Ray Floriani photo)

St. Peter’s improved to 21-13, while Furman ended the season at 23-11. The Peacocks were led by Nnamdi Enechionya with 18 points (4 of 5 from three). Quadir Welton turned in a strong inside performance with 11 points and a game-high 16 boards. The only drawback on Welton’s evening was going 3 of 8 from the line. Four Peacocks hit double digits, while point guard Trevis Wyche had a game-high nine assists against one turnover. Devin Sibley, Furman’s leading scorer (17 ppg), led all scorers with 20 points. The junior guard hit 4 of 6 from three and was the Paladins’ main threat on the night.

Tempo free:
Possessions: Furman 66, St. Peter’s 64
Offensive efficiency: St. Peter’s 120, Furman 77

A number of St. Peter’s basketball alumni were on hand. Keyden Clark, Shelton Gibbs, Tommy Best, John Krotulis, and retired AD Bill Stein were among a few from more recent years. From the 1968 NIT team, stars Elnardo Webster and Harry Laurie were in the building. That 1968 team defeated Marshall in two overtimes before crushing 10th-ranked Duke in the second round. St. Peter’s dropped a tough one to Jo Jo White-led Kansas in the semifinals and finished fourth, losing to Notre Dame in the consolation.

It was a night of remembering the past while admiring the present.

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