COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Fairleigh Dickinson became the second No. 16 seed in history to win an NCAA Tournament game, stunning top-seeded Purdue 63-58 behind 19 points from Sean Moore and a relentless, hustling defense on Friday night.
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. 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 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.
The Knights will now meet Memphis or Florida Atlantic on Sunday for a Sweet 16 berth in the East Region 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.
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 second straight double-digit seed to send the Boilermakers home. Purdue was a 3 seed when it lost to 15 seed Saint Peter’s, another small New Jersey school, in the Sweet 16 last year.
Edey finished with 21 point and 15 rebounds in what may have been his final college game, but the Knights consistently denied him the ball in the second half. He didn’t attempt a shot in the final nine minutes.