The Mizzou Hoops’ season ends with a tournament loss to Princeton by 15 seeds
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – As the last minute of the clock ticked by, Princeton fans began chanting, “Sweet 16! Sweet 16!” and coach Mitch Henderson vacated the bench with the win easily in hand.
This upset was no small stroke of luck against a more respected team. It was a thoroughly dominating performance that propelled Princeton to a place it had not been in more than half a century.
Blake Peters scored 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 with a 78-63 win over Missouri on Saturday.
“The world sees us as two surprises,” said striker Tosan Evbuomwan. “But I feel like we should be here. We have a lot of confidence in what we do. There is definitely no let-up with this group.”
No. 15-seeded Princeton (23-8) followed a first-round win over Pac-12 tournament winner Arizona by overwhelming Southeastern Conference No. 10-seeded Missouri (25-10) from the start.
The Ivy League school, known a generation ago for scaring powerhouses and occasionally throwing up surprises, has reached the knockout stages for the first time since 1967, when only 23 teams even reached the tournament.
“I have no words for you,” said Peters. “We have such an incredible section (of fans) here. I have the best teammates in the world. I love every single one of them. If we go out there and believe in each other, anything is possible. I know it’s a cliche, but anything is possible.”
Princeton plays the winner of Sunday’s game between Baylor and Creighton at the Sweet 16 in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday night.
The Tigers will become the second Ivy League school to make the Sweet 16 in the last 43 tournaments, joining Cornell in 2010. No team from the academically respected league that does not award athletic scholarships has made it further since Penn reached the Final Four in 1979.
“I’ve always dreamed of going deep into the tournament,” said Henderson, a player on Princeton’s teams in 1996 and 1998 who won first-round games. “As a player, I got through to the second round a couple of times. I never got past that.”
This is the third straight year that a 15th-seeded team has made the Sweet 16, following Oral Roberts in 2021 and another New Jersey school, Saint Peter’s last year. The only other time a 15 seed made it this far was in 2012 when Florida Gulf Coast made it.
Ryan Langborg led Princeton with 22 points and Peters added 17.
DeAndre Gholston scored 19 points and Noah Carter added 14 for Missouri, which sought its first spot on the Sweet 16 since 2009.
“We were able to take the lead once,” said coach Dennis Gates. “We held the lead for 30 seconds throughout the game. Every time we went ahead or they went ahead, we cut it down to six, they came back and did what a good team would do: take a shot or make a game.
Showing no sign of being outclassed against another Power Conference team, Princeton controlled the game from the start. Keeshawn Kellman had two dunks and a blocked shot within 16 seconds midway through the half.
Princeton extended the lead to 10 points in a Turn 3 by Zach Martini and went up to 33-19 with a drive from Evbuomwan.
Missouri responded by scoring the last seven points of the half to enter the breakdown seven.
Every time Missouri threatened early in the second half, Princeton had a response by hitting five 3-pointers by Peters. The fourth gave Princeton a 62-43 lead and Missouri never threatened again after that.
“Blake Peters has been off the bench for us for weeks,” Henderson said. “This is a very, very confident group. We are so excited to be going to the Sweet 16. It is an absolute pleasure to be with these guys. You just grit your teeth and do it.”
Princeton: Physically, Princeton was more than a match with Missouri with a 44-30 rebound advantage and 16 offensive rebounds that resulted in 19 second-chance points. Caden Pierce led with 16 rebounds.
“They play absolutely fearless,” said Henderson. “You’re not afraid of anyone.”
Missouri: Coach Dennis Gates’ first season in Missouri was successful with 25 wins, but still had a disappointing end.
Princeton will be looking for its first Elite Eight appearance since 1965, when Bill Bradley was the star.
https://fox2now.com/sports/college/mizzou-hoops-season-ends-with-tourney-loss-to-15-seed-princeton/ The Mizzou Hoops’ season ends with a tournament loss to Princeton by 15 seeds