SACRAMENTO, Calif. - University of Missouri basketball saw a remarkable season end with a 78-63 loss to fifteenth-seeded Princeton in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Golden 1 Center.
The seventh-seeded Tigers (25-10), picked 11th in the Southeastern Conference preseason poll, made the league tournament semifinals for the first time and won the program's first NCAA game in a decade in the inaugural season under Whitten Family Men's Basketball Head Coach Dennis Gates.
The Tigers were stymied by a Princeton (23-8) squad which controlled the game from the start.
"We were able to get the lead one time," 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."
Mizzou put solid runs together - before and after halftime - but Princeton answered every time, knocking down 12 three pointers and holding a 44-30 rebounding edge. The Ivy League school turned 16 offensive boards into 19 second-chance points and got a career-best 16 rebounds from freshman Caden Pierce.
Trailing by five, 33-28, following a Kobe Brown hook shot 70 seconds into the second half, Princeton countered with a 7-0 run that build the lead back to 12 at 48-20 with 17:20 to go.
Mizzou followed with a 5-0 run to make it 40-33 with 14:26 to go and Princeton grabbed an offensive rebound and made a three to push its lead to 10 at 43-33.
A floater from DeAndre Gholston at the 10:20 mark made things 43-37, but the six-point margin quickly evaporated as Princeton closed the door with a 13-2 run over the next 2:55 to lead by 17 at the under eight-minute media.
Mizzou, who forced a season-low nine turnovers, would get no closer and was denied its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2009.
Gholston led the way with 19 points, his first time as Mizzou's leading scoring sine he poured in 12 at Mississippi State on Feb. 4, 2023. Noah Carter (14) and Brown (12) also found double digits. Brown (7) and D'Moi Hodge (6) led the way on the boards.
Princeton jumped out to a 10-point lead at 24-14 with 7:25 left in the half, taking advantage of Mizzou missing 10 of 11 shots over a span of three-plus minutes. Princeton led by as many as 14, 33-19, with 2:57 to go in the half, but Mizzou closed the opening stanza on a 7-0 run to halve the deficit and trail 33-26 at the break.
Ryan Langborg led Princeton with 22 points and Blake Peters, who drained five three pointers, added 17.