Fairleigh Dickinson Shocks No. 1 Purdue In Historic NCAA March Madness Upset

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Fairleigh Dickinson introduced down an enormous.

Pulling off one of many largest upsets in NCAA Tournament historical past, the undersized, underdog Knights surprised top-seeded Purdue 63-58 on Friday night time, changing into the second No. 16 seed to win a sport in March Madness.

The shortest group within the tourney, the Knights (21-15) confirmed no worry in swarming 7-foot-4 All-America heart Zach Edey from the beginning and easily outplayed the Big Ten champion Boilermakers (29-6).

“If we played them 100 times, they’d probably beat us 99 times,” FDU coach Tobin Anderson mentioned. “Play them 100 times, we have one win. But tonight’s the one we had to be unique, we had to be unorthodox. We had to make it tough on them, just be different.”

Sean Moore scored 19 factors to steer FDU and a relentless defensive cost — the Knight pressed a lot of the sport — by a group that now has everybody’s consideration.

Five years in the past, the University 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 over time. Still, No. 16s had a 1-150 document in opposition to 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 Arena, the place the followers from Memphis and Florida Atlantic who have been ready for the day’s closing sport joined forces in cheering on the Knights within the closing, frantic minutes.

“Man, I can’t even explain it,” Moore mentioned. “I’m still in shock right now. I can’t believe it. It’s crazy. But it feels amazing.”

Fairleigh Dickinson didn’t even win the Northeast Conference Tournament, falling by one level within the title sport to Merrimack, which couldn’t take part within the NCAA Tournament 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, changing into the third straight double-digit seed to ship the Boilermakers dwelling. Purdue was a No. 3 seed when it misplaced to No. 15 seed St. Peter’s, one other small New Jersey college, within the Sweet 16 final yr. The Boilermakers have been bounced within the first spherical by Thirteenth-seeded North Texas in 2021.

“Our job was just to come into the game and throw a punch,” mentioned FDU’s Demetre Roberts, 20 inches shorter than Edey. “We knew they would throw multiple punches. Just throw a punch back. We knew what type of game this was.”

“A lot of times they would have one dude guarding from behind and one dude basically sitting in my lap,” Edey mentioned. “They were full fronting the entire game. Made it very hard to get catches. Credit to them, they had a great game plan coming in. And they executed it very well.”

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 doable NBA lottery choose, however the bitterness of this defeat might sway Edey to stay round for an additional yr.

“I have no opinion on that,” Edey mentioned when requested about his future. “I’ll make my decision going forward.”

The Knights’ two prior NCAA Tournament wins got here within the First Four, together with this yr, after they drubbed Texas Southern 84-61. After that sport, Anderson instructed his gamers he believed they may deal with Edey & Co.

“The more I see Purdue, the more I think we can beat them,” Anderson mentioned with a digicam within the locker room.

Some of Purdue’s gamers mentioned they felt disrespected by the feedback, which turned out to be prophetic.

“It was the right message, wrong audience,” Anderson mentioned. “I would have said that with no camera in there. I didn’t mean to get Purdue upset. That was not the idea at all. But that’s got to be the message. We’re trying to win the next game. We just can’t be happy to be here.”

“And the guys gotta believe.”

Just being within the tourney was fairly an accomplishment for FDU, which went 4-22 a yr in the past.

It wasn’t so much, so he introduced three gamers — Roberts, Grant Singleton and Moore — together with him from Division II energy St. Thomas Aquinas.

Turns out, they’re large 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.

However, 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 large goals.

Without a participant on its roster taller than 6-foot-6, Fairleigh Dickinson typically wanted two gamers to protect Edey — one in entrance and one behind — and he missed his first three photographs earlier than a dunk.

Edey confirmed some frustration and at one level instructed one of many officers, “Sir, he’s holding my left arm.”

Purdue ultimately 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 taking pictures for FDU.