COLUMBUS, Ohio – Fairleigh Dickinson became just the second 16th seed in NCAA Tournament game history to win an NCAA Tournament game, stunning top-seeded Purdue 63-58 on Friday night behind Sean Moore’s 19 points and relentless, sizzling defense.
The Knights (21-15), the shortest team in the tourney, showed no fear in swarming 7-foot-4 All-American center Zach Eddy from the start. 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 boys by beating Virginia in the first 16-over-1 win after several close calls in years. However, no. With a record of 1-150 against 1, no. Had 16 and was 1-151 overall before FDU’s shock.
After the final horn, FDU’s players mobbed each other on the floor of Nationwide Arena, where fans from Memphis and Florida Atlantic cheered the Knights on in the final minutes.
Fairleigh Dickinson was winless in the Northeast Conference tournament, falling by one point in the title game to Merrimack, which was unable to participate in the NCAA Tournament due to an NCAA rule that still has four games to play. Annual change from Division II.
FDU held Purdue scoreless for more than 5 1/2 minutes and scored on a 3-pointer by Moore, from suburban Columbus, with 1:03 remaining. The Knights went from there to become their second straight double-digit seed to send the Boilermakers home. Purdue was ranked No. 3 last year when it lost to St. Peter’s, another small New Jersey school, in the Sweet 16 at No. 15.
Eddy finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds in what may have been his final college game, but the Knights continued to deny him the ball. He didn’t make a shot in the last nine minutes. The junior center is a potential NBA lottery pick, but the bitterness of this loss will push him for another year.
The Knights’ two previous NCAA Tournament wins include this year’s 84-61 upset of Texas Southern in the first four. After that game, Knights coach Tobin Anderson told his players he was confident Eddy and Co. could handle it.
“The more I watch 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 insulted 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 play next week at Madison Square Garden in New York — just a short drive from the private school’s campus in Teaneck, New Jersey.