No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson delivered the biggest upset of this year’s tournament on Friday night, defeating top seed Purdue 63-58 in Columbus Ohio.
The Knights led by one at halftime and managed to hold on to their lead, as a 5 1/2 minute drought in the final five minutes doomed the Boilermakers to a first round elimination.
‘We just shocked the world!’ Knights coach Tobin Anderson told CBS after the game.
And it couldn’t happen to a better group of guys, a better group of fans, my family, the whole thing. We are ecstatic, we can 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 just showed people that we can do it,” Moore said after the game.
Fairleigh Dickinson players went wild after winning historic victory 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 from day one,” Moore added of his coach Anderson.
‘Many coaches fell asleep with me when I was recruited. He believed in me, so I followed him, and you see where I am now.
The Knights will face the winner of the Memphis-FAU matchup on Sunday.
The smallest team in the tournament, the Knights (21-15) showed no fear attacking Purdue’s 7-foot-4 All-America center Zach Edey early on.
Despite the 21 points, the FDU players were quicker and more composed than the Big Ten champion Boilermakers (29-6).
Five years ago, UMBC led the way for the little guys by overwhelming Virginia in the first 16-on-1 victory after numerous close encounters over the years.
Still, the No. 16s had a 1-150 record before the FDU upset.
Fairleigh Dickinson didn’t even win the Northeast Conference Tournament, falling by one point in the title game to Merrimack, who was unable to make the NCAA Tournament due to an NCAA rule that bars him from the postseason because he is still completing his four. Division II transition year.
After the final buzzer, FDU players piled onto the floor of Nationwide Arena, where fans from Memphis and Florida Atlantic joined forces to cheer on the Knights in the final minutes.
Edey was constantly denied the ball down the stretch. He didn’t attempt a shot in the last nine minutes. The junior center is a potential NBA lottery pick, but the bitterness of this loss could influence him to stick around for another year.
Purdue saw their championship aspirations come 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 waning seconds of the second half.
Purdue head coach Matt Painter of the Purdue Boilermakers leaves the court after losing
The Knights’ previous two NCAA Tournament victories have come in the Top Four, including this year, when they defeated Texas Southern 84-61. After that game, Knights coach Tobin Anderson told his players that 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 the Purdue players said they felt disrespected by the comments, which turned out to be prescient.
The Knights will now meet the winner of the Memphis-Florida Atlantic on Sunday for a ticket to the Sweet 16 and a trip to play at Madison Square Garden in New York next week, a short drive from the private school’s campus in Teaneck, New Jersey.