COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Fairleigh Dickinson introduced down an enormous.
Pulling off one of many greatest upsets in NCAA Event historical past, the undersized, underdog Knights shocked top-seeded Purdue 63-58 on Friday night time, turning into the second No. 16 seed to win a sport in March Insanity.
The shortest group within the tourney, the Knights (21-15) confirmed no concern in swarming 7-foot-4 All-America heart Zach Edey from the beginning and easily outplayed the Huge Ten champion Boilermakers (29-6).
“If we performed them 100 occasions, they’d most likely beat us 99 occasions,” FDU coach Tobin Anderson mentioned. “Play them 100 occasions, we’ve one win. However tonight’s the one we needed to be distinctive, we needed to be unorthodox. We needed to make it powerful on them, simply be totally different.”
Sean Moore scored 19 factors to guide FDU and a relentless defensive cost — the Knight pressed many of the sport — by a group that now has everybody’s consideration.
5 years in the past, the College of Maryland, Baltimore County, confirmed the best way for the little guys by overwhelming Virginia within the first 16-over-1 victory after quite a few shut calls through the years. Nonetheless, No. 16s had a 1-150 file towards No. 1s and have been 1-151 total earlier than FDU’s shocker.
After the ultimate horn, FDU’s gamers mobbed one another on the ground of Nationwide Enviornment, the place the followers from Memphis and Florida Atlantic who have been ready for the day’s last sport joined forces in cheering on the Knights within the last, frantic minutes.
The Knights will now meet the winner of Memphis vs. Florida Atlantic on Sunday for a Candy 16 berth and a visit subsequent week to play at Madison Sq. Backyard in New York — only a quick drive from the personal college’s campus in Teaneck, New Jersey.
“Man, I can’t even clarify it,” Moore mentioned. “I’m nonetheless in shock proper now. I can’t consider it. It’s loopy. Nevertheless it feels superb.”
Fairleigh Dickinson didn’t even win the Northeast Convention Event, falling by one level within the title sport to Merrimack, which couldn’t take part within the NCAA Event due to an NCAA rule that bars it from the postseason as a result of it’s nonetheless finishing its four-year transition from Division II.
FDU held Purdue scoreless for greater than 5½ minutes down the stretch and moved forward by 5 on a 3-pointer by Moore — who’s from suburban Columbus — with 1:03 left.
The Knights held on from there, turning into the third straight double-digit seed to ship the Boilermakers house. Purdue was a No. 3 seed when it misplaced to No. 15 seed St. Peter’s, one other small New Jersey college, within the Candy 16 final 12 months. The Boilermakers have been bounced within the first spherical by Thirteenth-seeded North Texas in 2021.
“Our job was simply to come back into the sport and throw a punch,” mentioned FDU’s Demetre Roberts, 20 inches shorter than Edey. “We knew they might throw a number of punches. Simply throw a punch again. We knew what kind of sport this was.”
Edey completed with 21 level and 15 rebounds in what might have been his last faculty sport, however the Knights have been masterful towards him within the second half. Edey didn’t try a shot within the last 9 minutes, and anytime he touched the ball there have been Knights throughout him.
“Numerous occasions they might have one dude guarding from behind and one dude principally sitting in my lap,” Edey mentioned. “They have been full fronting the complete sport. Made it very onerous to get catches. Credit score to them, they’d an awesome sport plan coming in. And so they executed it very nicely.”
When Purdue’s late push fell quick and its season ended, Edey squeezed the shoulder straps on his jersey and walked stone-faced towards Purdue’s locker room.
The junior heart is a potential NBA lottery choose, however the bitterness of this defeat might sway Edey to stay round for an additional 12 months.
“I’ve no opinion on that,” Edey mentioned when requested about his future. “I’ll make my resolution going ahead.”
The Knights’ two prior NCAA Event wins got here within the First 4, together with this 12 months, once they drubbed Texas Southern 84-61. After that sport, Anderson advised his gamers he believed they may deal with Edey & Co.
“The extra I see Purdue, the extra I feel we are able to beat them,” Anderson mentioned with a digital camera within the locker room.
A few of Purdue’s gamers mentioned they felt disrespected by the feedback, which turned out to be prophetic.
“It was the proper message, fallacious viewers,” Anderson mentioned. “I might have mentioned that with no digital camera in there. I didn’t imply to get Purdue upset. That was not the concept in any respect. However that’s bought to be the message. We’re making an attempt to win the subsequent sport. We simply can’t be blissful to be right here.”
“And the blokes gotta consider.”
Simply being within the tourney was fairly an accomplishment for FDU, which went 4-22 a 12 months in the past.
This was Anderson’s first season on the college, and after he landed the job in Might, he held a apply the primary night time simply so he knew what he needed to work with from a group that had the second-worst file in this system’s 58-year historical past.
It wasn’t rather a lot, so he introduced three gamers — Roberts, Grant Singleton and Moore — together with him from Division II energy St. Thomas Aquinas.
Seems, they’re big slayers.
And it was the Boilermakers, not the undersized Knights, who have been scrambling from the opening tip.
Purdue might have had Fairleigh Dickinson outsized on the ground and within the stands as a boisterous group of Boilermakers followers gave their group what felt like a home-court benefit regardless of being 240 miles from West Lafayette, Indiana.
Nevertheless, when the Knights’ Joe Munden drained a step-back 3-pointer within the first half, “F-D-U!” chants broke out inside the world and it grew to become apparent this small group had huge goals.
With no participant on its roster taller than 6-foot-6, Fairleigh Dickinson generally wanted two gamers to protect Edey — one in entrance and one behind — and he missed his first three pictures earlier than a dunk.
Edey confirmed some frustration and at one level advised one of many officers, “Sir, he’s holding my left arm.”
Purdue finally settled in and reeled off 11 straight factors — 4 on Edey free throws — to take 24-19 lead. The Knights, although, responded with their very own spurt and Heru Bligen’s layup after a steal helped FDU take a 32-31 into halftime.
Roberts completed with 12 factors and 6-4 ahead Cameron Tweedy had 10 factors on 5-of-6 capturing for FDU.