The Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (21-15, 10-6 NEC) pulled off the stunning 63-58 upset win against the No. 1 seed Purdue Boilermakers(29-6, 15-5) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
The Knights became the second 16th seed to knock off a No 1. seed since UMBC achieved the feat in a 74-54 victory over Virginia in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Sean Moore totaled a game-high 19 points, Demetre Roberts contributed 12, and Cameron Tweedy added 10.
Knights Head Coach Tobin Anderson on the historic victory, "What a night and incredible win for us. Hard to put it in words right now and it just happened. For us to beat them tonight in this environment I'm so proud of the guys and what we've done and accomplished so far."
"I thought our style is hard to play against and I'm sure Big Ten Teams don't press as much," Anderson said about their defense. "I thought the press, the up-tempo, speed and quickness of our guys and they defended their tails off and played great. We're happy to survive and advance and move on."
Fairleigh Dickinson led 32-31 at halftime after a highly competitive first half, with the lead changing on six occasions. The Knights shot 42 percent from the field while sizzling from the free-throw line hitting seven of eight free throws.
In the second half, Fairleigh Dickinson bumped up the margin to 41-36 with 14 minutes left on a jump shot by Tweedy. However, the Boilermakers responded with an emphatic 11-0 spurt over two minutes.
The Knights did not wilt under the pressure of the moment as they ignited a rebuttal with an 8-0 run to jump back in front 49-41 with less than 10 minutes to go. Demetre Roberts scored five points while Grant Singleton canned a trey.
Purdue answered with a brief run to retake the lead 50-49 with eight and half minutes remaining, but Fairleigh Dickinson quickly regained the advantage with Joe Munden Jr. converting a three-point play on a fast-break lay-up.
Moore provided the bulk of scoring down the stretch notching nine points to extend the Knights' lead to 61-56 with a minute left.
Purdue had ample opportunities to cut into the lead and tie the game up but missed a couple of shots. Fairleigh Dickinson's defense locked down by preventing drives into the paint and from the perimeter.
With eight seconds to go, Roberts sealed the milestone victory for the Knights, draining two free throws. After the Boilermakers missed a shot as the clock hit zero, Roberts flung the ball high into the air as the Fairleigh Dickinson players celebrated on the court.
"First off, we knew coming into this game we knew how good Purdue was," Roberts explained. "Our job coming into the game was throw a punch and we knew they would throw multiple punches and just to throw a punch back. It was a game of runs. We showed why we belong here and credit to Purdue but we do what we have to do and now on to the next one."
Fairleigh Dickinson returns to action on Sunday, March 19th, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, squaring off against ninth-seed Florida Atlantic University Owls (32-3) with tip-off set for 7:45 p.m. at Nationwide Arena. Florida Atlantic upended eight-seed Memphis 66-65 in the first round.
"We're trying to win the next game and not happy to be here," Moore noted. "We're a little irritated and have a chip on our shoulder. People say we shouldn't be here and in this tournament. We want to prove people wrong. People see that we belong and played well in the last two games; that is a credit to our guys, and getting better and exciting."
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