No. 15 Princeton stuns Missouri in March Madness to reach Sweet 16

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Sacramento, Calif. – As the clock ticked down to the last clock, Princeton fans chanted “Sweet 16! Sweet 16!” And coach Mitch Henderson easily cleared the bench with the win in hand.

The upset was not against a more heralded team from a small school. It was an utterly dominating performance that catapulted Princeton to a place it had not been in more than half a century.

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Blake Peters made five 3-pointers in the second half and Princeton shocked another power conference team on Saturday to beat Missouri 78-63 to reach the NCAA Tournament regional semifinals for the first time in 56 years.

Forward Toson Iwbumwan said, “The world sees us as two reversals. “But I think we’re here to stay. We have a lot of trust in each other, what we’re doing. There’s definitely no slack with this group.


No. 15-seeded Princeton (23-8) overcame the Southeast Conference’s 10th-seeded Missouri (25-10) early on after a first-round victory over Pac-12 tournament champion Arizona.

Princeton players celebrate during their 78-63 upset win over Missouri during the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
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The Ivy League school known for intimidating powerhouses and occasionally pulling upsets a generation ago reached the Round of 16 for the first time since 1967, when only 23 teams made it to the tournament.

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

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

Ryan Langborg, who scored a game-high 22 points, went for a layup during Princeton’s 78–63 upset victory over Missouri.
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The Tigers will be the second Ivy League school to make the Sweet 16 in the last 43 tournaments, joining Cornell in 2010. No team in an academically prestigious league that does not offer athletic scholarships has advanced since Penn reached the Final Four in 1979. ,

“I’ve always dreamed of playing deep in the tournament,” said Henderson, a player on Princeton’s teams in 1996 and ’98. “As a player, got in the second round twice. Never went further than that.”

2021 marks the third straight year the 15th-seeded team made the Sweet 16, following Oral Roberts and fellow New Jersey school St. Peter’s last year. The only other time a 15 seed made it was in 2012 when Florida Gulf Coast did so.

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

Princeton fans celebrate during their team's victory.
Princeton fans celebrate during their team’s victory.
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DeAndre 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 grab the lead one time,” said coach Dennis Gates. “We held the lead for 30 seconds the whole game. Every time we got a lead or when they had a lead, we got it down to six, they came back down and did what a good team does: make a shot or make a play.

Princeton showed no signs of being outclassed against another power conference team, controlling the play from the start. Keshawn Kelman had two dunks and a blocked shot in a 16-second span midway through the half.

Princeton built a 10-point lead on a corner 3 by Zach Martini and went up 33–19 on a drive by Ibuomwan.

Missouri responded by scoring the last seven points of the half to go down a break seven.

Every time 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 again after that.

“Blake Peters has been making shots off the bench for us for weeks,” Henderson said. “It’s a very confident group. We’re so thrilled to get to the Sweet 16. These guys are an absolute joy to be around. They just grit their teeth and they do it.

No. 15 Princeton stuns Missouri in March Madness to reach Sweet 16

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