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Fairleigh Dickinson comes to Salt Lake City tired, but riding a high after first NCAA Tournament victory

UPDATED: Thu., March 21, 2019, 9:54 a.m.

Fairleigh Dickinson Knights guard Darnell Edge (1) dribbles during a practice leading up to the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Fairleigh Dickinson Knights guard Darnell Edge (1) dribbles during a practice leading up to the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

SALT LAKE CITY – Over the next few weeks, there will be plenty of players and coaches losing sleep over agonizing losses suffered at the NCAA Tournament.

Fairleigh Dickinson may be a rare example of the opposite.

“It’s been a long night,” senior guard Darnell Edge said.

“The last 24 hours have been, like, no sleep, a lot of excitement, a lot of thrills, a great win,” forward Mike Holloway Jr. added.

“We really didn’t have time to sleep,” junior forward Kaleb Bishop said. “… To be honest, I probably got four – four or five hours.”

Such is the nature of notching a First Four win and beginning your NCAA Tournament in earnest on the other side of the country the very next day.

The 16th-seeded Knights earned their way into the Round of 64 with an 82-76 win over Prairie View A&M Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio. There wasn’t much of a celebratory period, though, for a group that had just won the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament game.

From the University of Dayton Arena, the Knights bussed straight back to the team hotel, zipped up their suitcases, briefly met with friends and family members, then hopped on an airplane that flew them to Salt Lake City, where less than 24 hours later they were fielding questions and practicing on another court stamped with the “March Madness” logo.

The cell phones were still buzzing and the ears were still ringing by the time Fairleigh Dickinson touched down in Utah early Wednesday morning.

“My phone was going crazy,” Holloway said. “Everybody was so excited for us and we were excited ourselves and a lot of celebrating and just not a lot of rest.”

“I didn’t get a lot of sleep myself, my phone wouldn’t stop going off,” said Edge, who poured in 33 points on 9-of-13 shooting and 8-of-8 from the free throw line to lead FDU’s offense Tuesday. “So a lot of excitement. The guys were excited so we are proud to be here and compete.”

But Prairie View A&M celebrations ended about the same time the Gonzaga preparations began – at roughly 2 a.m. local time, according to coach Greg Herenda.

“We flew in and we had a meeting last night about 2 in the morning with the team,” he said, “and it was, ‘We have to stop celebrating. You’ll be able to celebrate the first NCAA victory for Fairleigh Dickinson University for the rest of your lives. Now we have 24 hours to prepare for a team that is really, really good.’”

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