St. Peter's head coach Shaheen Holloway reacts during the first half of a college basketball game against North Carolina in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA tournament, Sunday, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
PHILADELPHIA — Following Saint Peter's Sunday loss to North Carolina, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop promised on Twitter that the city would still hold a parade and a keys to the city ceremony for the team, after its historic NCAA tournament run.
The Tar Heels crushed all hope of a March Madness miracle, getting 20 points and 22 rebounds from Armando Bacot in a wire-to-wire 69-49 runaway over the 15th-seeded Peacocks.
Eighth-seeded North Carolina (28-9) made its record 21st Final Four, and next on their list is none other than arch-rival Duke and its soon-to-be-retiring coach, Mike Krzyzewski.
Next Saturday in New Orleans will mark the first Final Four meeting — first NCAA Tournament meeting, in fact — between the Tobacco Road arch-rivals whose campuses are separated by 11 miles.
While Coach K's winding road to retirement has been a beauty to watch this March, nothing has captured more imaginations than the run put on by underdog Saint Peter's.
The entire basketball budget for this scrappy group from Jersey City is $1.6 million — or around $400,000 less than what Tar Heels first-year coach Hubert Davis, who was sobbing as his players enveloped him after the buzzer, makes in a year.
Two nights earlier, Saint Peter's (21-12) beat Purdue to become the first 15 seed to advance to an Elite Eight.
They are hardly the first team to see grand plans undone by one of the country's top-line power programs.
It got ugly early.
After Carolina's Leaky Black missed a free throw 2 1/2 minutes in, Bacot edged in for the offensive rebound and an easy putback. It gave Carolina a 7-0 lead.
They trailed 21-7 after missing their first six shots, and 16 of their first 19.
In its three tournament wins over Kentucky, Murray State and Purdue, Saint Peter's had never trailed by more than six.
The Peacocks, whose 10-game win streak ended, moved the ball well and got plenty of good looks over the first 10 minutes.
Some shots went halfway down and rimmed out. Others bounced twice on the iron but wouldn't fall.
Late in the first half, Daryl Banks III swooped in for what looked like a windmill jam.
It got rejected — by the front of the rim. It made the Peacocks 5 for 27 on the night, and when Bacot dunked on the next possession, North Carolina led 36-15.
KC Ndefo led Saint Peter's with 10 points.
U.S. Rep. Albio Sires — a St. Peter's alum himself — tweeted after Sunday's game, "I am so proud of this team. They made history #StrutUp."
(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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