Saint Peter’s University quietly savors OT win over Kentucky

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Everyone was buzzing about tiny Saint Peter’s University Friday after its stunning NCAA tournament upset of Kentucky, except maybe Saint Peter’s University.

Sure, students and staff were savoring the No. 15 seed Peacocks’ 85-79 overtime win. But Fridays are typically quiet on the Jersey City, New Jersey campus, and that was unchanged even after the feat that destroyed untold numbers of tournament brackets showing second-seeded Kentucky in the winner’s box.

It wasn’t that way Thursday night, when a watch party drew a big crowd, Kaylie Morris, a junior majoring in biology, said.

“It was a lot of people and they were supportive, very supportive,” she said. “And it was loud.”

The 150-year-old Jesuit school isn’t generally known as a rabid basketball school — at least it wasn’t as the Peacocks headed into their fourth appearance in the tournament since the 2010-11 season. This was the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion’s first NCAA tournament win.

“A lot of people doubted. I don’t think anybody believed that a little school in Jersey City would do so well,” John Johnson Jr., an assistant professor of history, said.

But Eduardo Pinto, a junior majoring in criminal justice, said he had so much confidence in Saint Peter’s that he bet a friend the team would score more than 80 points. “I always have faith in Saint Peter’s. I know a couple of them. They work hard and everything. I knew they were going to beat Kentucky.”

The only Jesuit, Catholic university in New Jersey has about 3,000 students, roughly 2,100 of them undergraduates and most from New Jersey. Its 30-acre campus sits across the Hudson River from New York City.

Morris said Saint Peter’s has a lot going for it besides basketball. “The classes are really small. It’s very personal. If you need help you’re not in a big class where the professor doesn’t even know you.”

As for that Peacock mascot, the university’s website says that was the idea of Rev. Robert Gannon, then dean, who chose it in 1930, symbolic of the resurrection in the Catholic tradition.

By Karen Matthews

Associated Press