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Fairleigh Dickinson stuns Purdue, becomes second No. 16 to top No. 1

Mar 17, 2023; Columbus, OH, USA; Fairleigh Dickinson Knights guard Grant Singleton (4) reacts to play in the second half against the Purdue Boilermakers at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

COLUMBUS, Ohio — For just the second time in 152 tries, a No. 16 wore the slipper perfectly against a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Sean Moore scored 19 and Grant Singleton added eight points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals as No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson shocked No. 1 Purdue 63-58 Friday night in an East Region first-round game.

Despite sporting the smallest team in Division I basketball, FDU managed to overcome 21 points and 15 rebounds from 7-foot-4 All-American center Zach Edey.

Moore’s steal and coast-to-coast layup with 1:36 put FDU ahead 58-53, before Fletcher Loyer hit a 3-pointer 12 seconds later. But another 3 from Moore with 65 seconds left restored the lead to five, 61-56.

Down 61-58, Purdue’s Braden Smith drove the lane but Moore came from behind and blocked the shot. Fletcher Loyer’s corner triple was off the mark and Demetre Roberts sealed it with two free throws.

The Boilermakers joined Virginia from 2018 as the only No. 1 seeds in the 64-team era to lose to a No. 16. With all other top seeds advancing this year, No. 1 seeds are now 150-2 against No. 16 draws.

Fairleigh Dickinson, which became the first “play-in” No. 16 seed to advance, took advantage of four Purdue turnovers in a five-minute span to seize early control. The Knights, a team that starts four guard and a forward as the shortest team in Division I, gave Purdue fits all night with full-court pressure.

Purdue scored 11 straight points during the first half but FDU quickly regained its footing and answered with a 13-5 run, highlighted by a double-team trap of Smith on an inbound pass. Singleton stole the ball and fed Heru Bligen for 32-29 lead. Purdue converted a pair of free throws before halftime and FDU settled for a 32-31 halftime edge.

Mason Gillis put Purdue on top with a 3-pointer just 30 seconds into the second half before Sean Moore answered seconds later with a triple and a 35-34 FDU lead. Cameron Tweedy’s jumper with 14:35 left put the Knights up 41-36 before Edey responded with a conventional three-point play and a short jumper that tied the game at the 13:44 mark.

Purdue sustained the run to make it a 12-0 spurt for a 47-41 lead.

But the Boilermakers couldn’t handle prosperity or the FDU press. The Knights rallied for the next eight points and a 49-47 lead.

Moore’s jumper put the Knights ahead 54-50 with 7:30 remaining before Fletcher Loyer’s 3 drew that Purdue within one with 7:10 left. That would remain the score for the next four minutes as FDU couldn’t convert on Purdue turnovers and the Boilermakers failed to take advantage of missed shots from Fairleigh Dickinson.

Moore’s two free throws with 2:50 remaining put FDU ahead, 56-53.

–By Mike Petraglia, Field Level Media

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