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Defense the calling card as Saint Peter’s eyes MAAC title

With Manhattan and Rider coming up, the Peacocks will need to rely on defense in order to keep pace.

Saint Peter’s 61-44 win against Fairfield last Sunday was more than a victory. It was a statement.

The 44 points allowed was just the second time the Peacocks have held an opponent to under 45 points, after stifling Marist in a 66-40 victory in early January. Defense has been the calling card for Saint Peter’s, and they’ll need to keep that going to keep pace for the MAAC regular-season title.

After a slow start to the season, Saint Peter’s has rebounded big time to earn a 13-11 overall record. The win against Fairfield is their third straight. The Peacocks’ home-court, the Yanitelli Center, has become a fortress as Saint Peter’s has won six straight at home. The 10-5 MAAC conference record is tied with Siena for first place. Rider sits one game behind and face the Peacocks on Sunday. Each game is important as Saint Peter’s takes on Manhattan in Riverdale. As mentioned before, it’s the defense that separates Saint Peter’s from the other contenders.

The Peacocks lead the MAAC in scoring defense, holding opponents to 62.33 pts/game. Teams are shooting under 40% from the field against them, tops in the conference. They are also putting up the highest margin of victory at nearly six points per contest. If that’s not enough, Saint Peter’s also boasts the best rebounding margin and block the most shots, at 4.73 and 4.67 per game, respectively.

One of the biggest contributors to the team’s defensive prowess has been the play of Center Majur Majak. The 7’1″ sophomore out of Juba, South Sudan put up five blocks against Fairfield, while chipping in seven rebounds and four points. Majak also notched five blocks against Marist earlier in the month. As a whole, the team has been superb, with freshman Hassan Drame having two double-double performances this season.

The team has that mix of veteran seniors and juniors along with young underclassmen. Head Coach Shaheen Holloway has overcome suspension and done a wonderful job in his second season. With tournament time fast approaching, Holloway will surely be one of the leading candidates for MAAC Coach of the Year. He has coached a team who suffocate teams on defense, and a team that’s close to winning their first regular-season title since 2011.

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