FDU’s ‘life-changing’ win sparked by Sean Moore big shot
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It was the moment Fairleigh Dickinson players knew they were about to make history.
The author of that moment was Sean Moore, a 6-foot-4 junior forward who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, a native a few miles from Nationwide Arena, where he helped write history Friday night in the game of his life.
Moore, from the top of the key, fired a 3-point shot that gave the 16th seed FDU a five-point lead over the No. 1 seed Purdue with 1:03 remaining in the game.
It was the arrow that felled the Boilermakers.
After the ball left Moore’s hands, he posed like a statue for what felt like minutes, his follow-up right hand frozen in midair as his teammates swung around him.
In the stands, his mother, Shanika Tyler, said to herself (and to anyone who would listen): “He’s my son! »
“I was so flabbergasted, so amazed… I was speechless,” Tyler told the Post on Saturday, recounting the moment. “We said a prayer together before the game and I said, ‘Son, you better step out on this floor without fear.’ I told him to “own the land, because the worst thing that can happen is that you go home”.
“Nobody really saw it coming, but we didn’t doubt him for a minute.”
Chavis Wilson, who is like a second father to Moore and father to Moore’s 14-year-old brother, had no doubts when he saw the ball leave his hands en route to the tighter shot of UDF history.
“When he hit that shot, I started having flashbacks to all the practice and shooting, the 2,000 shots a day in the summer, all the games, all the tournaments, all the heartaches,” he said. Wilson told the Post on Saturday. “I was just proud that he pulled off the big shot. He used to turn away from the big shot. I told him before the game, ‘This is your city.’
“Same coach [Tobin] Anderson’s wife [Jodi], before boarding the buses, told him: “Sean, you always play well in front of your family”. We need you to do it one more time.
“When he fired that shot, I knew he was going to come in. It was just meant to be.”
Moore on Saturday described what he and FDU did on Friday as “life changing.”
“This whole game has changed everyone on our team – the staff, the students, everyone who attends Fairleigh Dickinson University,” he said. “Everything is different now.”
Everything is different because of this plan, this moment.
“I missed that shot several times in the second half, so I wasn’t going to let that stop me from taking that shot,” Moore told the Post. “I felt like it was going in and when it was going in…I had to hold the pose. It was just the momentum and the energy. I just felt like I had to let the energy out with how I felt. ”
Wilson said he communicated with Moore during the game by giving him certain looks.
“Like two shots before that one, he hesitated a bit,” Wilson said. “When they were down five points late in the game, I looked at him and gave him a wink and said, ‘You gotta get done now.’ He’s taken it to the next level.”
Demetre Roberts, a fifth-year senior and FDU team leader, called Moore’s shot a “game changer”, adding: “It was a dagger right there. I’m so proud of him. He played his ass. Thanks to him, we can move on.”
With 13 seconds left in the game and FDU clinging to a three-point lead, it was Moore who blocked a shot from Purdue’s Braden Smith to help seal the win.
Moore entered the game averaging 6.7 points per game and had scored in double figures just eight times in the previous 34 games this season. Still, he led the Knights with a career-high 19 points, had five rebounds and two blocked shots in the biggest game of his life.
He did it in his hometown, in front of his mother and father and his people.
“You can’t make it up,” Tyler said. “Honestly, when they say ‘Cinderella story’, I feel like it was ordained by God. I remember when he was 3 years old and he said, ‘Mom, I just want to be a basketball player. I want to be tall.
“I always said, ‘Pray about it,’ because I’m short and his father is short, so the fact that he’s [6-4]we feel like it was a blessing from God, meant to be his life.”
The three keys to victory for the FDU
A look at what 16th-seeded FDU (21-15) has to do to upset ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic (32-3) on Sunday in Columbus, Ohio.
FDU played the closest thing to a perfect game Friday night against No. 1 seed Purdue because the players knew it was going to take this. Sunday’s challenge will be to maintain the same elite intensity after the biggest win in school history.
“It’s hard to top what we did last night,” UDF guard Grant Singleton said. “But we’re just trying to keep a cool head, to stay humble about the situation. We have more things to do. We want to keep dancing.”
FAU doesn’t have the huge height advantage over FDU that Purdue had, but their players are just as aggressive on the glass as FDUs.
FAU had 18 offensive rebounds in its win over Memphis on Friday night and is plus-six for the season in rebounding margin (FDU is plus-0.5).
Defend the Perimeter
FDU focused so much of their defensive energy collapsing on Purdue’s 7-foot-4 center Zach Edey that they let Purdue’s outside shooters fire.
The Boilermakers went 5 of 26 from long range and couldn’t hurt FDU on the perimeter. FAU makes nearly 10 3-point shots per game and shoots 37% from long range. And he holds the opponents at 31 percent.