Fairleigh Dickinson rallies for 1st NCAA Tournament win
DAYTON, Ohio — Eleven months ago, Fairleigh Dickinson coach Greg Herenda was seriously ill with life-threatening blood clots. On Tuesday night, he danced on the court and hugged his players after they secured the first NCAA Tournament win in school history.
Senior guard Darnell Edge scored a career-high 33 points, and Jahlil Jenkins had 20 of his 22 points in the second half as the Knights capped a furious comeback by taking down Prairie View A&M, 82-76, in a First Four game Tuesday night.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Herenda, in his sixth season at the Hackensack, N.J., school. “When you coach for 35 years and you take a team to an NCAA Tournament and a team that, when I got here six years ago, we had nothing. And to build it, and then it’s here, and it’s so sad that every coach can’t experience this.”
Fairleigh Dickinson (21-13), which got the automatic tournament bid by winning the Northeast Conference Tournament, won its first NCAA tourney game in six tries. The Knights move on to play Gonzaga, the No. 1 seed in West Region, on Thursday in Salt Lake City.
Prairie View (22-13), also seeking its first tournament win, built 13-point leads in both halves, but Fairleigh Dickinson took control in the second half behind the shooting of Edge and Jenkins.
“Jahlil Jenkins has the biggest heart in Ohio right now,” Hereneda said. “As a sophomore, he took over the game in the second half.”
A 3-pointer by Gary Blackston pulled Prairie View back to within 78-76, but a layup from Mike Holloway Jr. and a pair of free throws by Edge with 17 seconds left sealed it for Fairleigh Dickinson.
Blackston led the Panthers with 26 points and Devonte Patterson had 17.
“Having coach go through that last year, I remember us being in practice and him always just telling us that he just wanted to be there with us,” Edge said. “All he thought about while he was in the hospital was us. So we rallied together, and it’s just a great win for us, for our program.”