Calif. (AP) — As the final minute ticked off the clock, the
Princeton fans started chanting “Sweet 16! Sweet 16!” and coach
Mitch Henderson cleared the bench with the victory easily in
was no small-school fluke against a more heralded team. It was a
thoroughly dominating performance that sent Princeton to a place it
hadn’t been in more than a half-century.
made five 3-pointers in the second half and Princeton shocked another power
conference team to reach the NCAA Tournament regional
semifinals for the first time in 56 years by beating Missouri 78-63
looks at us as two upsets,” forward Tosan Evbuomwan said. “But I
feel like we’re supposed to be here. We have a lot of confidence in
one another, what we’re doing. There’s definitely no letup with
The No. 15
seeded Princeton (23-8) followed up a first-round win over
Pac-12 tournament champion Arizona by overwhelming seventh-seeded
Missouri (25-10) of the Southeastern Conference from the start.
League school known for giving powerhouses scares and
occasionally pulling off upsets a generation ago has
reached the round of 16 for the first time since 1967 when only
23 teams even made the tournament.
“I have no
words for you,” Peters said. “We have such an unbelievable section
(of fans) here. I have the best teammates in the world. I love each
and every one of them. when we go out and believe in each other,
anything is possible. I know it’s cliche, but anything is
will play the winner of Sunday’s game between Baylor and Creighton
in the Sweet 16 in Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday night.
will be the second Ivy League school to make the Sweet 16 in the
past 43 tournaments, joining Cornell in 2010. No team from the
academically prestigious league that doesn’t give athletic
scholarships has gone further since Penn made the Final Four in
dreamed of playing deep into the tournament,” said Henderson, a
player on Princeton’s teams in 1996 and ’98 that won first-round
games. “As a player, got to the second round a couple times. Never
got beyond it.”
the third straight year a team seeded 15th made it to the Sweet 16,
following Oral Roberts in 2021 and fellow New Jersey school Saint
Peter’s last year. The only other time a 15 seed made it this far
came in 2013 when Florida Gulf Coast did it.
led Princeton with 22 points and Peters added 17.
Gholston scored 19 points and Noah Carter added 14 for Missouri,
which was seeking its first berth in the Sweet 16 since 2009.
“We were able
to get the lead one time,” coach Dennis Gates said. “We held the
lead for 30 seconds in the entire game. Every time we got the lead
or when they had the lead, we cut it to six, they came back down
and did what a good team would do: Make a shot or make a play.”
showed no signs of being outclassed against another power
conference team, controlling the play from the start. Keeshawn
Kellman had two dunks and a blocked shot in a span of 16 seconds
midway through the half.
built the lead to 10 points on a corner 3 by Zach Martini and went
up 33-19 on a drive by Evbuomwan.
responded by scoring the final seven points of the half to go into
the break down seven.
Missouri threatened early in the second half, Princeton had an
answer with Peters hitting five 3-pointers.
The fourth gave Princeton a 62-43 lead and Missouri never
threatened after that.
has been making shots coming off the bench for us for weeks,”
Henderson said. “This is a very, very confident group. We are so
thrilled to be going to the Sweet 16. It is an absolute pleasure
being around these guys. They just grit their teeth and they do
Princeton was more than a match physically with Missouri with a
44-30 rebounding edge and 16 offensive rebounds that led to 19
second-chance points. Caden Pierce led the way with 16
playing absolutely fearless,” Henderson said. “They’re unafraid of
Coach Dennis Gates’ first season at Missouri was a successful one
with 25 wins but still had a disappointing finish.
will look for its first Elite Eight appearance since 1965 when Bill
Bradley was the star.