INDIANAPOLIS — #15 seed Saint Peter’s traded blows with second-seeded Kentucky for 40 minutes and then slayed the heavily favored Wildcats in overtime, claiming the program’s first NCAA Tournament win, 85-79 in East Regional action on Thursday.
Daryl Banks III scored a career-high 27 points with five 3-pointers, the Peacocks made 18 of 21 free throws and Mr. Big Shot Doug Edert salted away the win with two late free throws and finished with 20 points.
Saint Peter’s (20-11) awaits the Thursday’s winner of #7 seed Murray State against #10 seed San Francisco in the Round of 32 on Saturday.
Oscar Tshiebwe had 30 points and 16 rebounds to lead Kentucky (26-8) with his 16th consecutive double-double. While the Wildcats outscored Saint Peter’s 23-18 at the free-throw line, Kentucky shot just 65.7 percent and missed 12 times.
TyTy Washington drilled a low laser of a 3-pointer from the top of the key to keep Kentucky’s hopes alive with 21.6 seconds left in overtime and Saint Peter’s up 81-79. But Matthew Lee and Edert made two free throws apiece as the Peacocks made eight foul shots in a row in overtime to seal the bracket-busting upset.
A free-throw parade swung the pendulum throughout overtime.
Banks converted two for a 77-76 Saint Peter’s advantage with 1:45 remaining in OT, and Sahvir Wheeler overthrew Tshiebwe for Kentucky’s 13th turnover. Hassan Drame recovered a bullet pass for a right-handed layup and 79-76 lead with 1:02 remaining and regained possession when Keion Brooks’ try hit the bottom of the rim and caromed off of his head with 41.5 ticks left. An official replay review gave the Peacocks possession.
Tshiebwe powered in a pair of point-blank baskets and Kentucky went ahead 75-71 in the first 90 seconds of overtime. Saint Peter’s cut the deficit to three with a free throw and after Wheeler missed two foul shots, Doug Edert splashed a 3 from the top of the key, knotting the score for the 15th time.
Kellan Grady got a second try at a 3 after missing the first and made it count, hitting all net from the left wing as Kentucky grabbed a 71-69 lead with 48 seconds left in regulation. It would last only one possession. Edert’s floating layup danced around the rim, dropped and tied the game at 71 with 23 seconds remaining.
Washington missed from the potential game-winner from the right corner in the final seconds.
Banks escaped Grady on a backdoor cut to capitalize Kentucky’s turnover and trim the lead to 68-64, and Saint Peter’s cut the lead to two on Drame’s putback. The Peacocks got the ball back with 1:46 left with another stop.
Edert curled off a screen to the top of the key from the right corner and rolled in a 3 for the 69-68 lead.
Neither team led by more than five points until the 5-foot-9 Wheeler scooped a layup off the glass just beyond the fingertips of KC Ndefo. The 68-62 lead beckoned an immediate timeout from coach Shaheen Holloway with 4:12 left. Ndefo’s unforced turnover followed, handing the ball and momentum back to Kentucky.
–By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media