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St Peter's Cinderella run in NCAA basketball tournament runs out of magic after North Carolina loss

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Back to pumpkins! Saint Peter’s Cinderella run in NCAA basketball tournament runs out of magic as Jersey boys are routed by North Carolina

  • The Peacocks, the first 15 seed to ever make the Elite Eight, missed their first six shots and never threatened UNC 
  • The Tar Heels shot 41 percent from the field Sunday and had only eight turnovers 
  • North Carolina advances to face familiar rivals Duke University in New Orleans on Saturday 

The clock struck midnight for Saint Peter’s early on Sunday as this year’s NCAA basketball tournament darlings were routed by North Carolina.

The small Jersey City school, which became the first 15th seed to ever make the Elite Eight, saw its dreams of advancing to the Final Four crushed by the traditional basketball powerhouse.

UNC’s Armando Bacot collected 20 points and 22 rebounds, Brady Manek scored 19 points, and the eighth-seeded Tar Heels cruised to a 69-49 in the East Region to set up a much-anticipated battle with archrival Duke next weekend.

It will be the first time the ACC foes, who have battled 257 times since 1920, have ever met in the NCAA. The Final Four battle between two teams that have combined to win 11 NCAA titles could also be the last game for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has announced his retirement at the end of the year.   

Manek, Bacot and Caleb Love (14 points) helped North Carolina find ways around a Saint Peter’s defense that stymied the likes of Kentucky and Purdue in prior rounds. 

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Pictured: Head coach Shaheen Holloway of the St. Peter's Peacocks reacts on the sidelines during the first half of the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels

Pictured: Head coach Shaheen Holloway of the St. Peter’s Peacocks reacts on the sidelines during the first half of the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels

Saint Peter's Doug Edert (left) has ball knocked loose by Leake Black during the second half

Saint Peter’s Doug Edert (left) has ball knocked loose by Leake Black during the second half 

Saint Peter's fan attending watch party at the Jersey City school could barely watch as the Peacocks failed to recapture the magic that helped them beat Kentucky, Murray State and Purdue

Saint Peter’s fan attending watch party at the Jersey City school could barely watch as the Peacocks failed to recapture the magic that helped them beat Kentucky, Murray State and Purdue

The North Carolina Tar Heels holds up trophy after winning the East Regional on Sunday

The North Carolina Tar Heels holds up trophy after winning the East Regional on Sunday

A man attends an on-campus watch party during the NCAA men's college basketball tournament game between Saint Peter's and North Carolina on Sunday

A man attends an on-campus watch party during the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament game between Saint Peter’s and North Carolina on Sunday

The Tar Heels shot 41 percent from the field Sunday and had only eight turnovers. 

The Tar Heels spoiled Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final home game before retirement, winning 94-81 on March 5.

The Tar Heels took down Marquette, defending champion Baylor and UCLA to make it to Sunday’s game. 

Now they have ended the improbable run of Saint Peter’s (22-12), the small New Jersey commuter school that became the first No. 15 seed in tournament history to reach the Elite Eight.   

Daryl Banks III of the St. Peter's Peacocks looks on during the second half of the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels

Daryl Banks III of the St. Peter’s Peacocks looks on during the second half of the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels

Fousseyni Drame had 12 points and seven rebounds to lead Saint Peter’s. KC Ndefo added 10 points, seven boards, six blocks and three steals. 

The Peacocks missed their first six shots and fell behind 9-0 before getting on the board. 

Bacot grabbed 10 rebounds in the opening 10 minutes, denying Saint Peter’s second looks.

Manek gave the Tar Heels a double-digit lead with five quick points. 

His catch-and-shoot 3-pointer out of a timeout rolled around the rim and in, and on their next possession he scored with a baseline cut to go up 17-7.

North Carolina Tar Heels guard Caleb Love (2) scores easy layup against the St. Peters Peacocks during the second half in the finals of the East Regional

North Carolina Tar Heels guard Caleb Love (2) scores easy layup against the St. Peters Peacocks during the second half in the finals of the East Regional

Love hit consecutive 3-pointers to make it 27-9, and the Tar Heels led by as many as 21 on their way to doubling up the Peacocks 38-19 at intermission. 

Saint Peter’s made just 7 of 31 field goals in the half, including 1-of-11 from 3-point range.

Drame powered an 11-4 run early in the second half, knocking down a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 51-31. 

But the Peacocks could not draw any closer, making only six shots in the final 12 minutes.

Love’s breakaway dunk with 5:24 to play made it 61-38 and sealed the deal with a flourish.

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