PHILADELPHIA — Doug Edert hopped on the press table and punched his fist in the air toward a delirious section of Saint Peter’s fans — aren’t they all? — as his teammates thumped their chests, waved eight fingers and turned the scene into one perfect Peacock party.
Edert’s giant leap toward the roaring crowd might have been his only mistake of the night.
“You jumped on a table,” coach Shaheen Holloway asked later, then paused for some serious side-eye for comedic effect.
C’mon, Coach. Let the Peacocks strut their stuff.
The upsets aren’t over yet and the tiny commuter college in Jersey City, New Jersey, is still making March history. Next stop, the Elite Eight, a first-time destination for a No. 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
“We’re making history,” Edert said. “We’re looking forward to making more history.”
Daryl Banks III scored the tying and go-ahead baskets that pushed 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s to the brink of the Final Four, the suddenly popular Peacocks thriving off a home-court edge to beat third-seeded Purdue 67-64 on Friday night.
The Peacocks (22-11) added the Boilermakers to their string of upsets and will face either UCLA or North Carolina in the East Region final on Sunday.
Saint Peter’s had the fans inside the packed Wells Fargo Center on its side from the opening tip and the arena erupted when Banks tied the game 57-all on a turnaround jumper. He hit a driving layup with 2:17 left that made it 59-57.
The Peacocks kept their composure — hey, they’re used to these wins by now after knocking off No. 2 seed Kentucky and seventh-seeded Murray State — and held off a Purdue team that gamely tried to bully them inside.
“What they going to say now?” Holloway said about his team’s doubters, a group whose numbers are dwindling.
The Boilermakers (29-8), 12.5-point favorites according to FanDuel Sportsbook, never led by more than six.
Almost 30 years to the day that Duke’s Christian Laettner stunned Kentucky with an overtime buzzer-beater to win a regional final at the since-razed Spectrum, Purdue and Saint Peter’s pulled off their own Philly classic.
Saint Peter’s fans made the 93-mile ride south to help pack the arena and give the Peacocks more of an edge than they usually have at their bandbox known as Run Baby Run Arena. Consider, just 434 fans were listed as the total attendance for Saint Peter’s home opener this season against LIU.
More than that turned out to give the team a Sweet 16 sendoff from campus this week.
“Everybody wanted tickets. I can’t get tickets for everybody,” Holloway said. “I’ll tell you what, man, I can’t believe the support that we’re having. This is unbelievable. Jersey City has been unbelievable for us.”
Even more basketball fans — yes, even those whose brackets the Peacocks help bust — were suddenly rooting for Saint Peter’s, an unassuming campus just across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan.
Jaden Ivey buried an NBA-distance 3 with 8 seconds left that pulled Purdue within 65-64 and momentarily shushed the crowd.
No worries. Edert, whose wispy mustache and goofy persona earned him a fast-food chicken endorsement deal, sank two free throws to seal the win.
Edert then led the madness on the court and took it to the table. He saluted fans in the first few rows as the rest of the Peacocks mobbed each other and hugged before they gathered at the basket to celebrate — one more time — the biggest win in program history.
“Yeah. I found a little opening and started moving stuff,” Edert said of his table hop. “I don’t know, I was so excited.”
The Peacocks dropped and made snowmen on the court and soon there was a huge celebration of fans jamming the concourse chanting “S-P-U! S-P-U!”
They were the third No. 15 seed ever to reach the Sweet 16. Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 and Oral Roberts last year both failed to reach the regional final.
Meanwhile, a Final Four berth remains elusive for Boilermakers coach Matt Painter and his perennial Big Ten contender.
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.
Before the game, Saint Peter’s players lay on their backs at half court as they did their stretching routine, most looking up at the big screen that replayed highlights from last weekend’s wins that got the team to Philadelphia.
By now, the Peacocks’ run is etched as the story of the tournament. Beating Kentucky and coach John Calipari was shocking enough. Eight days later, they’re still in the bracket.
The Peacocks lived by Holloway’s mantra: “I got guys from New Jersey and New York City. You think we’re scared of anything?”
They certainly weren’t scared of the Boilermakers.
Purdue used its massive size advantage and dumped the ball inside to 7-foot-4 Zach Edey for easy dunks and Sasha Stefanovic hit three 3s to offset nine turnovers.
When Holloway talked about his players as New York and New Jersey tough, he should have thrown Philly into the mix. Rupert grew up in Philly and heard the loudest ovation of all the Peacocks during lineup introductions. He scored all of his points in the first half. Purdue took a 33-29 lead into the break.
Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey traveled from Connecticut after her team practiced Friday to watch her son Jaden play in his first Sweet 16. She had a car waiting for her after the Irish’s practice to make the 2 1/2-hour trip. Notre Dame faces North Carolina State in the women’s Sweet 16 on Saturday morning.
The fourth-seeded Bruins or No. 8 seed Tar Heels will seek to end the Peacocks’ unforgettable March.
CHICAGO — Remy Martin scored a season-high 23 points and Kansas did its part as the only No. 1 seed left in the NCAA Tournament, holding Providence to 17 first-half points and hanging on for a 66-61 victory on Friday night to reach the Elite Eight.
The Jayhawks (31-6) made it farther than fellow No. 1 seeds Gonzaga and Arizona, both ousted in the Sweet 16, and Baylor, whose title defense ended in the second round. They will face either Miami or Iowa State in the Midwest Region final on Sunday.
Jalen Wilson added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Jayhawks, who are back in a regional final for the first time since 2018, when they reached their 15th Final Four. Coach Bill Self is seeking his fourth trip there since he arrived in 2003.
Kansas also moved ahead of Kentucky for most wins in Division I history with 2,354.
The Jayhawks led by 13 points early in the second half, let it slip away, and then regrouped. Fourth-seeded Providence (27-6) took a short-lived one-point lead, but Kansas responded by scoring seven straight.
Big 12 Player of the Year Ochai Agbaji scored a season-low five points. But with Martin and Wilson leading the way, the Jayhawks won their eighth straight since a 74-64 loss at TCU on March 1.
Al Durham led Providence with 21 points. But the Friars shot 33.8% and made 4 of 23 3-pointers as their best run since reaching the regional finals in 1997 under Pete Gillen came to an end.
Kansas led 26-17 at halftime and 36-23 early in the second half before Providence went on a 9-2 run, capped by Ed Croswell’s three-point play.
That drew a loud roar from the Friars’ fans, and they had more to cheer after Noah Horchler nailed two 3-pointers in about a 50-second span to cut it to 41-40 midway through the half.
Reeves tied it at 44-all when he hit two free throws, and Horchler gave Providence its first lead at 48-47 when he scored on a layup with 5:49 remaining.
Jalen Wilson drove for a three-point play to put the Jayhawks back on top. Christian Braun added one of his own, and a steal by Wilson led to a layup for David McCormack, making it 54-48 with 4:12 to play.
Agbaji had the Kansas contingent roaring when he threw down an alley-oop dunk to make it 57-50. A.J. Reeves answered with a 3 for Providence, but Kansas remained on top the rest of the way.
Providence: Coach Ed Cooley’s Friars made a huge jump after finishing 13-13 a year ago. They won their first Big East regular-season championship and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018.
Kansas: The Jayhawks delivered another solid defensive effort and made enough shots to keep their championship hopes alive.
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