COLUMBUS, Ohio — Fairleigh Dickinson brought down a giant.
Pulling off one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history, the undersized, underdog Knights stunned top-seeded Purdue 63-58 on Friday night, becoming the second No. 16 seed to win a game in March Madness.
The shortest team in the tourney, the Knights (21-15) showed no fear in swarming 7-foot-4 All-America center Zach Edey from the start and simply 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 said. “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 points to lead FDU and a relentless defensive charge — the Knight pressed most of the game — by a team that now has everyone's attention.
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 against No. 1s and were 1-151 overall before FDU’s shocker.
After the final horn, FDU’s players mobbed each other on the floor of Nationwide Arena, where the fans from Memphis and Florida Atlantic who were waiting for the day's final game joined forces in cheering on the Knights in the final, frantic minutes.
The Knights will now meet the Memphis-FAU winner on Sunday for a Sweet 16 berth and a trip next week to play at Madison Square Garden in New York — just a short drive from the private school’s campus in Teaneck, New Jersey.
“Man, I can’t even explain it,” Moore said. “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 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.
FDU held Purdue scoreless for more than 5 1/2 minutes down the stretch and moved ahead by five on a 3-pointer by Moore — who is from suburban Columbus — with 1:03 left.
The Knights held on from there, becoming the third straight double-digit seed to send the Boilermakers home. Purdue was a No. 3 seed when it lost to No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s, another small New Jersey school, in the Sweet 16 last year. The Boilermakers were bounced in the first round by 13th-seeded North Texas in 2021.
“Our job was just to come into the game and throw a punch,” said 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.”
Edey finished with 21 point and 15 rebounds in what may have been his final college game, but the Knights were masterful against him in the second half. Edey didn't attempt a shot in the final nine minutes, and anytime he touched the ball there were Knights all around him.
“A lot of times they would have one dude guarding from behind and one dude basically sitting in my lap,” Edey said. “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 short and its season ended, Edey squeezed the shoulder straps on his jersey and walked stone-faced toward Purdue’s locker room.
The junior center is a possible NBA lottery pick, but the bitterness of this defeat could sway Edey to stick around for another year.
“I have no opinion on that,” Edey said when asked about his future. “I’ll make my decision going forward.”
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, 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 said with a camera in the locker room.
Some of Purdue’s players said they felt disrespected by the comments, which turned out to be prophetic.
“It was the right message, wrong audience,” Anderson said. "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 in the tourney was quite an accomplishment for FDU, which went 4-22 a year ago.
This was Anderson’s first season at the school, and after he landed the job in May, he held a practice the first night just so he knew what he had to work with from a team that had the second-worst record in the program’s 58-year history.
It wasn’t a lot, so he brought three players — Roberts, Grant Singleton and Moore — along with him from Division II power St. Thomas Aquinas.
Turns out, they’re giant slayers.
And it was the Boilermakers, not the undersized Knights, who were scrambling from the opening tip.
Purdue may have had Fairleigh Dickinson outsized on the floor and in the stands as a boisterous group of Boilermakers fans gave their team what felt like a home-court advantage despite being 240 miles from West Lafayette, Indiana.
However, when the Knights’ Joe Munden drained a step-back 3-pointer in the first half, “F-D-U!” chants broke out inside the arena and it became obvious this small team had big dreams.
Without a player on its roster taller than 6-foot-6, Fairleigh Dickinson sometimes needed two players to guard Edey — one in front and one behind — and he missed his first three shots before a dunk.
Edey showed some frustration and at one point told one of the officials, “Sir, he’s holding my left arm.”
Purdue eventually settled in and reeled off 11 straight points — four on Edey free throws — to take 24-19 lead. The Knights, though, responded with their own spurt and Heru Bligen’s layup after a steal helped FDU take a 32-31 into halftime.
Roberts finished with 12 points and 6-4 forward Cameron Tweedy had 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting for FDU.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC 66, MEMPHIS 65
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Nicholas Boyd drove into the lane and made a floater with 2.5 seconds left, and Florida Atlantic beat Memphis in a rugged, back-and-forth game for the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
Coach Penny Hardaway’s Tigers (26-9) had the ball and a one-point lead with 19 seconds left, but a steal by Brandon Weatherspoon and a subsequent jump ball — Hardaway argued his team had called timeout before the tie-up — gave the Owls (32-3) a chance, and Boyd converted.
Giancarlo Rosado scored 15 points to lead ninth-seeded FAU, which advanced to face a surprising opponent, No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson, in the second round.
Kendric Davis scored 16 points despite being hobbled by a second-half leg injury for eighth-seeded Memphis. DeAndre Williams added 13 points while playing most of the second half with four fouls for the Tigers, including a tip-in that put his team ahead 65-64 with 34 seconds left.
KANSAS STATE 77, MONTANA STATE 65
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Markquis Nowell had 17 points and 14 assists and No. 3 seed Kansas State held off 14th-seeded Montana State for its first NCAA Tournament win since knocking off Kentucky in 2018 to reach the Elite Eight.
Now the two Wildcat programs will meet again in a rematch on Sunday in the second round.
Nowell and fellow third-team Associated Press All-American Keyontae Johnson, who had 18 points and eight rebounds, proved too much for the Bobcats to handle. Nae’Qwan Tomlin added 13 points for Kansas State (24-9).
RaeQuan Battle had 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting for Montana State (25-10), which had its eight-game win steak snapped.
MICHIGAN STATE 72, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 62
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Joey Hauser scored 17 points and No. 7 seed Michigan State clamped down defensively on No. 10 seed Southern California in the second half.
Coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans (20-12) will face Marquette on Sunday in the East Region for a spot in the Sweet 16.
Tyson Walker and Jaden Akins added 12 points apiece for Michigan State, which held USC to 34% shooting in the second half.
Joshua Morgan scored 14 and Kobe Johnson 13 to lead the Trojans (22-11), who were knocked out in the tournament’s first round for the second straight year.
MARQUETTE 78, VERMONT 61
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Kam Jones scored 18 straight points for Marquette in the second half, and the second-seeded Golden Eagles beat No. 15 seed Vermont for their first NCAA Tournament victory in a decade.
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Jones finished with 19 points. Oso Ighodaro scored 14 points and David Joplin added 12 as Marquette (29-6) pulled away in the last 10 minutes. Marquette won its first NCAA Tournament game in a decade and advanced to face Michigan State on Sunday.
Dylan Penn, Matt Veretto and Robin Duncan each had 11 points for Vermont (23-11), whose 15-game win streak was snapped.
Jones made a 3-pointer early in the second half to begin an 18-6 spurt during which he scored all of Marquette’s points as the Golden Eagles pulled ahead 63-46.
XAVIER 72, KENNESAW STATE 67
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Jack Nunge blocked Terrell Burden’s driving attempt at a go-ahead layup in the final seconds, and Xavier dug out of a 13-point hole against surprising Kennesaw State.
Souley Boum hit four clinching free throws in the final 2.6 seconds for the third-seeded Musketeers (26-9), who ran off 15 unanswered points as part of a game-ending 24-6 run. That was enough to turn away the 14th-seeded Owls (26-9) in the program’s first-ever March Madness game.
Xavier moves on to face Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Burden and Chris Youngblood each scored 14 points to lead Kennesaw State.
PITTSBURGH 59, IOWA STATE 41
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Nelly Cummings scored 13 points and No. 11 seed Pittsburgh held sixth-seeded Iowa State to 23% shooting.
Pitt (24-11), which edged Mississippi State in the First Four, moves on to play third-seeded Xavier on Sunday.
Gabe Kalscheur and Jaren Holmes each had 12 points for Iowa State (19-14).
MIAMI 63, DRAKE 56
ALBANY, N.Y. — Nijel Pack scored 21 points, including the go-ahead jumper and a pair of free throws in the final minute, and No. 5 seed Miami rallied past 12th-seeded Drake.
The Hurricanes (26-7) scored the final 10 points. Norchad Omier added 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Hurricanes, who were held to a season low in scoring. Wooga Poplar had 15 points.
Miami will face fourth-seeded Indiana in the second round.
Darnell Brodie had 20 points and nine rebounds to lead Drake (27-8).
INDIANA 71, KENT STATE 60
ALBANY, N.Y. — Trayce Jackson-Davis did it all with 24 points, 11 rebounds, five blocked shots and five assists as Indiana defeated 13th-seeded Kent State to reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016.
The fourth-seeded Hoosiers (23-11) advanced to play fifth-seeded Miami Sunday for a trip to Kansas City for the Midwest Region semifinals.
Jackson-Davis became the first player since blocks became an official NCAA statistic in 1985-86 to have at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and five assists in an NCAA Tournament game, according to OptaSTATS.
Sincere Carry scored 15 points to lead the Golden Flashes (28-7), who had won six straight heading into tournament.
SAINT MARY'S 63, VCU 51
ALBANY, N.Y. — Mitchell Saxen had 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, and Saint Mary’s beat ailing VCU.
Alex Ducas also scored 17 points as the fifth-seeded Gaels (27-7) advanced to the second round for the second straight year.
Ace Baldwin led 12th-seeded VCU (27-8) with 13 points, but he appeared to sprain his right ankle on his landing after taking a jumper with just over 14 minutes left in regulation.
UCONN 87, IONA 63
ALBANY, N.Y. — Adama Sanogo scored 10 of his 28 points in the first five minutes of the second half as fourth-seeded UConn took control and beat Iona.
The Huskies (26-8) advanced to play fifth-seeded Saint Mary’s on Sunday after losing in the first round under coach Dan Hurley the last two seasons.
Coach Rick Pitino's Gaels (27-8) had their 14-game winning streak snapped.
Walter Clayton Jr. led Iona with 14 points.
GONZAGA 82, GRAND CANYON 70
DENVER — Slow-starting Gonzaga finally started playing like a title contender, then wore out Grand Canyon behind 28 points and 10 rebounds from Julian Strawther.
Next up for Gonzaga is a game Sunday against TCU.
Ray Harrison led the 14th-seeded Lopes (24-12) with 20 points and Chance McMillian had 16.
TCU 72, ARIZONA STATE 70
DENVER — JaKobe Coles hit a floater from the lane with 1.5 seconds left and No. 6 seed TCU rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to beat 11th-seeded Arizona State.
Coles took a pass Mike Miles Jr. from near the top of the 3-point circle, dribbled once and let go of the game-winner. Arizona State’s desperation heave at the buzzer missed.
Miles, playing on a hyperextended right knee, finished with 26 points for the Horned Frogs (22-12). They advanced to play Gonzaga.
DJ Horne had 17 points for Arizona State (23-13).
BAYLOR 74, UC SANTA BARBARA 56
DENVER — Caleb Lohner scored a season-best 13 points in just 18 minutes, and No. 3 seed Baylor beat UC Santa Barbara.
Adam Flagler led the Bears with 18 points, and LJ Cryer scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half.
Baylor (23-10) overcame a one-point halftime deficit and advanced to play Creighton on Sunday.
Miles Norris led the 14th-seeded Gauchos (27-8) with 15 points.
CREIGHTON 72, NORTH CAROLINA STATE 63
DENVER — Ryan Kalkbrenner scored a career-high 31 points and sixth-seeded Creighton overcame an abysmal 3-point shooting day to fend off No. 11 seed North Carolina State.
Next up for the Bluejays (22-12) is third-seeded Baylor in the second round.
Terquavion Smith led the Wolfpack (23-11) with 32 points.
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