No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson provided the biggest shock of this year’s tournament Friday night, upsetting top-seeded Purdue 63-58 in Columbus Ohio.
The Knights led by one at halftime and managed to hold onto their lead, as a late five-and-a-half minute scoring drought condemned the Boilermakers to a first-round exit.
‘We just shocked the world!’ Knights coach Tobin Anderson told CBS after the game.’
‘And it couldn’t happen to a better bunch of guys, a better bunch of fans, my family, the whole thing. We are ecstatic, we get to stay in Columbus, I love it.’
Sean Moore led the way in scoring for Fairleigh Dickinson with 19 points, while Demetre Roberts (12 points) and Cameron Tatum (10 points) also scored in double figures.
‘People didn’t think we belonged here, we’re just showing people that we can do it,’ Moore said after the game.
Fairleigh Dickinson players went wild after earning the historic upset over Purdue
Fairleigh Dickinson guard Demetre Roberts celebrates 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 beating Purdue
‘He believed in me since 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 see where I’m at now.’
The Knights will face the winner of the Memphis-FAU matchup on Sunday.
The shortest team in the tourney, the Knights (21-15) showed no fear in swarming Purdue’s 7-foot-4 All-America center Zach Edey from the start.
Despite’s 21 points, FDU´s players were quicker and more composed than the Big Ten champion Boilermakers (29-6).
Five years ago, UMBC showed the way for the little guys by overwhelming Virginia in the first 16-over-1 victory after numerous close calls over the years.
Still, No. 16s had a 1-150 record before FDU´s shocker.
Fairleigh Dickinson didn’t even win the Northeast Conference Tournament, falling by one point in the title game to Merrimack, which couldn’t participate in the NCAA Tournament because of an NCAA rule that bars it from the postseason because it’s still completing its four-year transition from Division II.
After the final horn, FDU´s players mobbed each other on the floor of Nationwide Arena, where the fans from Memphis and Florida Atlantic joined forces in cheering on the Knights in the final minutes.
Edey was consistently denied the ball down the stretch. He didn’t attempt a shot in the final nine minutes. The junior center is a possible NBA lottery pick, but the bitterness of this defeat could sway him to stick around for another year.
Purdue saw its championship aspirations skid to a halt with the shocking loss
Trey Kaufman-Renn, Caleb Furst, Brandon Newman and guard Ethan Morton (25) sit on the bench in the closing seconds of the second half
Purdue head coach Matt Painter leaves the court after the 63-58 loss to FDU
The Knights’ two prior NCAA Tournament wins came in the First Four, including this year, when they drubbed Texas Southern 84-61. After that game, Knights coach Tobin Anderson told his players he believed they could handle Edey and Co.
‘The more I see Purdue, the more I think we can beat them,’ Anderson told his players in the locker room.
Some of Purdue´s players said they felt disrespected by the comments, which turned out to be prophetic.
The Knights will now meet the Memphis-Florida Atlantic winner on Sunday for a Sweet 16 berth and 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.