No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson delivered the biggest shock of the year’s tournament Friday night, upsetting No. 1 seed Purdue 63-58 in Columbus Ohio.
The Knights led by one at halftime and managed to hold their lead, as a late five-and-a-half-minute drought saw the Boilermakers crash out in the first round.
“We just shocked the world!” Knights coach Tobin Anderson told CBS after the game.
And it couldn’t have happened to a better group of men, a better group of fans, my family, everything. We are thrilled, we gotta stay in Columbus, I love it.
Sean Moore led the way in scoring for Fairleigh Dickinson with 19 points, while Demeter Roberts (12 points) and Cameron Tatum (10 points) also scored in double figures.
“People didn’t think we belonged here,” Moore said after the match, “we’re just showing people we can do it.”
The Fairleigh Dickinson players went wild after earning the historic upset over Purdue
Fairleigh Dickinson goalkeeper Demetre Roberts celebrated in the first half of the game
Fairleigh Dickinson guard Grant Singleton (4) celebrates after a basket against Purdue in the second half
Fairleigh Dickinson guard Joe Munden Jr. (1) celebrates after defeating Purdue
“He believed in me from day one,” Moore added of his coach, Anderson.
A lot of coaches slept on me when I was recruited. He believed in me, so I followed him, and you’ll see where I am now.
The Knights will face the winner of the Memphis-FAU game on Sunday.
The shortest team in the tournament, the Knights (21-15) showed no fear in crowding 7-foot-4 Purdue center Zack Eddy from the start.
Despite scoring 21 points, the FDU players were faster and more balanced than the Big Ten champion Boilermakers (29-6).
Five years ago, UMBC showed the way for the youngsters by upsetting Virginia in their first win 16 to 1 after many close calls over the years.
However, No. 16 had a 1-150 record before the FDU shock.
Fairleigh Dickinson didn’t even win the Northeast Conference Tournament championship, falling by one point in the title game to Merrimack, who couldn’t make the NCAA Tournament due to an NCAA rule preventing her from participating in the postseason because she still completed all four of her games. Transitional year of the second division.
After the final horn, the FDU players crowded together on the floor of the Nationwide Arena, as fans from Memphis and Florida Atlantic joined in cheering the Knights in the final minutes.
Eddie was constantly denied the extended ball. He did not attempt a shot in the last nine minutes. The rookie center is a potential NBA lottery pick, but the bitterness of this defeat could push him to stay for another year.
Purdue saw its championship aspirations halted with the shocking loss
Trey Kaufmann-Rehn, Caleb Forest, Brandon Newman and goalkeeper Ethan Morton (25) sit on the bench in the last seconds of the second half
Purdue FC coach Matt Painter of the Purdue Boilermakers left the court after the loss
The Knights’ two NCAA Tournament wins have come in their first four, including this year, when they defeated Texas Southern 84-61. After that game, Knights coach Tobin Anderson told his players that he thought they could handle Eddie & Company.
“The more I see Purdue, the more I think we can beat them,” Anderson told his players in the locker room.
Some Purdue players said they felt disrespected by the comments, which turned out to be prophetic.
The Knights will now meet the winner at the Memphis-Florida Atlantic on Sunday for a Sweet 16 berth and a trip to play at Madison Square Garden in New York next week — just a short drive from the private school’s campus in Teaneck, New Jersey.
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