No. 15 Princeton stuns Missouri to reach the Sweet 16

Blake Peters made five three-pointers in the second half, and No. 15 seed Princeton shocked another powerhouse conference team to reach the NCAA tournament regional semifinals for the first time in 56 years by defeating No. 7 seed Missouri 78-63 on Saturday.

As the last minute ticked off the clock, Princeton fans began chanting “Sweet 16! Sweet 16!” Coach Mitch Henderson came off the bench and the win was easily within reach.

This upset wasn’t just a small school fluke against a more promising team. It was an utterly dominant performance that sent Princeton to a place it hadn’t been in over half a century.

Princeton v. Missouri
Tosan Evbuomwan #20, Ryan Langborg #3, Caden Pierce #12 and Keeshawn Kellman #32 of the Princeton Tigers react against the Missouri Tigers in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Gold 1 on March 18, 2023 in Sacramento, California.

Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

“The world looks at us as a worry,” striker Toussaint Evpoumouane said. “But I feel like we’re meant to be here. We have a lot of faith in each other, what we do. There’s definitely no complacency with this group.”

Princeton (23-8) followed up its first-round win over Pac-12 Champion Arizona by crushing Missouri (25-10) of the Southeast Conference from the start.

The Ivy League school known for fearing powerhouses and sometimes upsets from a generation ago has reached the last 16 for the first time since 1967, when just 23 teams made it to the tournament.

“I have no words for you,” said Peters. “We have an incredible (fans) section here. I have the best teammates in the world. I love every single one of them. When we go out and believe in each other, anything is possible. I know it’s cliche, but anything is possible.”

Princeton will play the winner of Sunday’s game between Baylor and Creighton at the Sweet 16 in Louisville, Kentucky, Friday night.

The Tigers would be the second Ivy League school to make the Sweet 16 in the past 43 leagues, joining Cornell in 2010. No academically prestigious nor athletic-scholarship-offering team has gone this far since Penn reached the Final Four in 1979 .

“I always dreamed of playing deep in the championship,” said Henderson, a player on the 1996 and 1998 Princeton teams that won first-round games. “As a player, I’ve made it to the second round a few times. I’ve never gotten past it.”

This is the third year in a row that a 15th seed team has made it to the Sweet 16, following Oral Roberts in 2021 and fellow NJ school Saint Peter’s last year. The only other time a 15th seed has gotten that far came in 2013 when Florida’s Gulf Coast did it.

Ryan Langborg led Princeton with 22 points and Peters added 17 points.

DeAndre Gholston scored 19 points and Noah Carter added 14 for Missouri, which was seeking its first Sweet 16 finish since 2009.

“We managed to take the lead once,” said coach Dennis Gates. “We held the lead for 30 seconds the whole game. Every time we got the lead or when they had the lead we cut it to six, they’d step back and do what a good team would do: punt or put a play.”

Princeton showed no signs of being outdone against another powerhouse team, dominating play from the start. Keshawn Kellman hit a layup in the second half and grabbed a rebound within 16 seconds midway through the half.

Princeton built the lead to 10 points on a 3 layup by Zach Martini and went up 33-19 on an effort by Ivobomoan.

Missouri responded by scoring the last seven points of the half to go to a seven-time tiebreaker.

Every time Missouri threatened in the beginning of the second half, Princeton had an answer with Peters hitting five three-pointers. The fourth gave Princeton a 62-43 lead and never threatened Missouri after that.

“Blake Peters has been hitting the bench for weeks,” said Henderson. “This is a very, very confident group. We are so happy to go to the Sweet 16. It’s an absolute pleasure to be with these guys. They grit their teeth and do it.”

(Visited 7 times, 1 visits today)

Related posts