Photo Courtesy of Saint Peter's Athletics

On Banner Night, Saint Peter's open Bashir Mason era with win over NJIT

On a night when Saint Peter's raised its Elite Eight banner to the rafters at Run Baby Run Arena, the Peacocks under the direction of new head coach Bashir Mason defeated NJIT, 73-59, on Monday night.

In addition to Mason making his debut, Saint Peter's came in with six new players (two freshmen and four transfers) for a team that lost eight players (two to graduation, six to transfer portal). Among the seven players that returned to Jersey City for the 2022-2023 season, sophomore Jaylen Murray is the player many would look to in this campaign. After averaging six points and two assists per game last season, the belief is that he would step up the challenge on a team with little continuity.

Early in the game, the lack of continuity did not matter as Saint Peter's opened the game with a 17-0 run against a shell-shocked NJIT team. Mason brought his fast-paced style from his previous stop at Wagner as the Peacocks went up-tempo throughout the first half.

Miles Coleman finally put NJIT on the board with a three-pointer at the 13:09 mark of the first half. That would be the only shot from beyond the arc the Highlanders would hit in the opening half of play as they shot 1-for-11 from three while shooting just 24 percent from the field. Saint Peter's also forced nine first-half turnovers, which kept the lead intact for the Peacocks as the shot selection from Saint Peter's was less than desired toward the tail end of the half.

Like former Saint Peter's head coach Shaheen Holloway, Mason was not shy with his rotation as he played 12 players in the first half. The Peacock bench outscored NJIT 19-0 in the first half as the head coach finds the right rotation mix for the season.

Freshman Corey Washington led Saint Peter's with 13 first-half points, while Murray added 12 points.

The Highlanders came out firing, hitting three shots from beyond the arc to start the second half to cut the Peacock lead to 19. Saint Peter's retained their lead but struggled shooting from the field in the first part of the second half as the Peacocks did not make a field goal for over three minutes.

The drought ended as the Peacocks went on a 9-0 run capped by a Kyle Cardaci three-pointer to extend Saint Petr's lead to 59-32 with 10:06 left in regulation. Those good feelings didn't last long as NJIT went on a run to cut the deficit to 64-50 with under four minutes left.

Saint Peter's sealed the game after two consecutive Washington slams to extend the lead to 18 points as the Peacocks finished the home opener with a big win on a big night in Jersey City.

Washington finished with a game-high 18 points and eight rebounds. Murray added 14 points for the Peacocks, who had 11 different players score in the game.

Souleymane Diakite led NJIT with 16 points, while Raheim Sullivan scored 13 points for the Highlanders.

Before the game, Saint Peter's raised the banner and handed out rings in honor of last season's magical run to the Elite Eight. Among those who appeared for the festivities was Holloway and former defensive stalwart and current Pirate KC Ndefo as they returned to Run Baby Run Arena to participate in the pregame honors along with other players and staff from last season's team.

What's Next For Saint Peter's

On Saturday, the Peacocks travel to Newark to face Holloway and the Seton Hall Pirates at Prudential Center. Game time is set for noon.