Photo Courtesy of Saint Peter's men's basketball Twitter

Saint Peter's surges late in win over Fairleigh Dickinson

Jaylen Murray scored a game-high 18 points as Saint Peter's defeated Fairleigh Dickinson, 77-63, at Run Baby Run Arena in Jersey City on Sunday afternoon.

Fairleigh Dickinson started the game by pushing the Peacocks into labored possessions as the Knights applied full-court pressure early and often in the opening minutes. After the first media timeout, Saint Peter's went on an explosive 17-4 run over 5:39, led by Murray scoring eight points over that stretch. The Peacocks' defense also picked up the pace, forcing Fairleigh Dickinson into tough shots on every possession. Corey Washington's block of Heru Bligen at the 8:05 mark of the half exemplified the defensive toughness of Saint Peter's. 

The Knights went over five minutes without a field goal until Joe Munden Jr. made a jumper with 7:50 left in the half. Saint Peter's lead expanded to as much as 21 points during the half as FDU attempted to show some life on both ends of the floor. There was more patience, movement, and passing than how the opening part of the first half started. However, the Knights could not cool off the hot-shooting Peacocks as they shot well over 60 percent from the field throughout the first 20 minutes of play. 

FDU ended the first half on a 9-0 run over the final 3:30 of the half, cutting the deficit to 42-30 at halftime. On the flip side, Saint Peter's went scoreless for the final 3:45 of the half as FDU finally figured out the Peacock offense forcing nine turnovers.

Bligen led the Knights with 11 points, while Murray led Saint Peter's with the same point total through 20 minutes of play. 

The Knights started the second half outscoring the Peacocks by four to cut the Peacock lead to eight points. Demetre Roberts' three-pointer brought the Knights' bench to its feet as FDU felt it at the 16:26 mark of the second half. After a Grant Singleton layup for FDU, Murray was called for a questionable offensive foul as he tried to break a full-court trap. That only fed Fairleigh Dickinson more momentum, as they were down seven.

Saint Peter's (4-2) started to stretch the lead out again as Brent Bland hit two treys and Cam Young knocked down a foul line jumper to push the Peacocks lead to 58-45 with 11:52 left in regulation. 

The Peacocks went on another scoreless run at the midway point of the second half as FDU tried to get back into the game. Isiah Dasher scored on a driving layup, but the Knights answered as Singleton knocked down a three to cut Saint Peter's advantage to eight points. FDU had the momentum and were in the penalty with over eight minutes left in the game, which put them at the line for free points, with the clock stopped for the remainder of the game. 

"The more battle-tested we can get right now early, it's just going help us as a program moving forward," said Saint Peter's head coach Bashir Mason after the game. 

The Knights went on a 13-2 run to trail Saint Peter's 60-58 with under six minutes left. They could not get any closer as Saint Peter's scored the following six points, highlighted by a Corey Washington layup after a feed from Latrell Reid, who finished with 11 points and eight assists. Reid also put FDU away as he scored five straight points, including a corner three-pointer that led the crowd into a frenzy to lead Saint Peter's to their fourth win.

"I'm happy for Latrell, proud of him," said Mason. "He's been a tireless worker and does all the right things daily to be good. I said this to the team in the locker room after the game, he (Latrell) deserved to hit that three-point shot in the corner to put a dagger in the game because of his work ethic. I'm happy to see his stats are what they are and that we got the win."

Isiah Dasher finished with 11 points as the Peacocks shot 56 percent from the field and held Fairleigh Dickinson to 4-of-19 from beyond the arc. 

The Knights were led by Bligen's 16 points and Singleton, who finished with 14 points. 

What's Next For Saint Peter's and Fairleigh Dickinson 

The Peacocks begin MAAC play against new conference member and former NEC foe Mount Saint Mary's on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Run Baby Run Arena. FDU travels to Connecticut to face Hartford on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

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