PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Since their colossal upset victory in the Round of 64, most of the college basketball world fell in love with the No. 15 seed St. Peter’s Peacocks.
They slayed the dragon against the John Calipari-coached Kentucky Wildcats, defeated Murray State by 10 points and overcame the size of Purdue’s frontcourt to earn an Elite Eight game against the No. 8 seed North Carolina Tar Heels.
Sure, they ruined brackets along the way, but people couldn’t help but root for them. The Jersey ethos that Shaheen Holloway and his squad brought to the table charmed fans nationwide. So on Sunday in the Wells Fargo Center, St. Peter’s fans and college basketball neutrals wanted to see how much longer the ride would last.
But North Carolina — a team in the midst of its own sort of Cinderella run — found itself playing the evil stepmother on Sunday, defeating St. Peter’s, 69-49.
“Coming into the game, we weren't worried about who was going to be in the crowd or anything like that,” sophomore guard Caleb Love said. “We were focused on winning the game.”
The Tar Heels had their way offensively with a Brady Manek 3-pointer here and an Armando Bacot layup there. And on the other end, St. Peter’s went scoreless for the first four minutes and fell into a nine-point hole.
A team that never trailed by more than six points in the tournament quickly fell behind by double figures, losing by 20. A team that kept opposing bigs at bay allowed a 20-point, 22-rebound game from Bacot.
UNC outmatched St. Peter’s all night, playing the role of the spoiler to a T.
“We keep our eyes straight ahead, and we ignore all the noise,” head coach Hubert Davis said. “And I consistently tell them to turn down or turn off the noise.”