JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- The Cinderella story for a local college continues.
Saint Peter's University pulled off the biggest upset so far in the first round of this year's March Madness college basketball tournament, and they've done it again, getting 17 points from KC Ndefo to beat Murray State 70-60 on Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and complete its rise from obscurity into the Sweet 16.
Two days after Jersey City, New Jersey, became the third 15 seed to advance to a regional semifinal, joining Oral Roberts last year and Florida Gulf Coast in 2013., the tiny Jesuit school from
Fans gathered at a gymnasium in Jersey City to watch the game, and as CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reports, the excitement was electric.
A sense of pride could be felt as students watched the team's big win.
"New Jersey runs basketball. Jersey City runs basketball. Kentucky, I don't care ... Murray State, I don't care. We don't care," one fan said. "I have a Jersey tat for a reason because we run basketball, we run the U.S.. SPU is putting New Jersey basketball on the map."
"We just gotta take it one by one. We can't take it for granted. You know, whoever's next, Purdue or whoever, we gotta fight and keep going," another fan said.
Some fans said because the school's population is just about 3,000 students, they know the players.
"Just knowing these players, just in classes is crazy 'cause a really big state school, you don't know these players, but ours, we only got 3,000, and we know these players," another fan said. "It really is a family. We're all brothers and sisters."
Saint Peter's (21-11) ended a 21-game winning streak and a memorable season for Murray State (31-3), located 265 miles from Lexington in Kentucky's southeastern corner.
The memories will be lifelong for the Peacocks and coach Shaheen Holloway, a North Jersey hoops lifer who played at Seton Hall and apprenticed there as an assistant. On Friday, Pirates coach Kevin Willard endorsed Holloway as his replacement if he departs in the offseason.
Holloway has more immediate concerns: preparing his team for an East Region semifinal on Friday in Philadelphia against Texas or Purdue.
Doug Edert came off the bench to score 13 points for the Peacocks, including some big baskets late. Saint Peter's built a 13-point lead early in the second half and never trailed, but Murray State still made it tense. Justice Hill hit a 3-pointer to get the Racers within 59-57 with 4:07 left. Edert followed with a 3 and a layup, and the Peacocks closed it out at the free-throw line.
Hill made five 3s for 19 points and Tevin Brown scored 14 for Murray State. First-half foul trouble hurt the Racers, who had to figure out how to keep DJ Burns and Nicholas McMullen in the game with three fouls each.
Shooting was a problem, too: The Racers shot 35%, including 9 of 28 in the first half. Saint Peter's finished at 42% and closed the game with a 6-0 run for its ninth consecutive victory.
WATCH: Saint Peter's continues storybook run
Ndefo, the Peacocks' undersized post player at 6-foot-7 and 195 pounds, finished with 10 rebounds and made 7 of 9 free throws.
Saint Peter's didn't buckle in its overtime win over No. 2 seed Kentucky and showed no fear this time, either. The campus was buzzing after that victory and Holloway said he received more than 800 text messages. The Peacocks are likely to receiver a hero's welcome back in Jersey City.
Murray State eventually regrouped after its early foul problems, but for the first time since late December, the Racers failed to close out a game.
Saint Peter's gets to watch its next opponent on TV when No. 6 seed Texas meets No. 3 seed Purdue in Milwaukee on Sunday.
(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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