Jeremy Underwood came off the bench to score 19 points, leading North Carolina A&T past 21-loss Liberty 73-72 on Tuesday at Dayton, Ohio, at the First Four, ending an NCAA winless streak at nine games.
The Flames — only the second team ever to make the NCAA tournament with 20 losses — had a chance to win it. John Caleb Sanders drove coast to coast and flipped up a left-handed layup in heavy congestion that just missed. A&T (20-16) rebounded and, while Sanders rolled in pain on the baseline, began to celebrate an end to more than 30 years of disappointment.
Underwood came in averaging just over 6 points, but was perfect from the field, hitting six field goals in as many attempts. Bruce Beckford added 16 points and Lamont Middleton 14.
The victory advanced the Aggies to a showdown with top-seeded Louisville (29-5) in Lexington, Ky., Thursday.
Davon Marshall had 22 points and Sanders 21 for Liberty (15-21).
A&T came into the game 0-9 in NCAA tournaments, and hadn't come close to making the elite field since their last trip in 1995.
Saint Mary's 67, Middle Tennessee 54: Matthew Dellavedova scored 22 points, and Saint Mary's got a good start on its second straight NCAA tournament appearance, beating Middle Tennessee.
The Gaels (28-6) get a quick trip to Auburn Hills, Mich., to play sixth-seeded Memphis on Thursday.
Saint Mary's is making back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances for the first time in its history. The Gaels reached the round of 16 in 2010 before losing to Baylor. Not so good last year, when they dropped their opening game to Purdue 72-69.
With four starters back and Dellavedova, the school's career scoring leader, handling the ball and making the biggest shots, the Gaels were too much for Middle Tennessee (28-6), which was making its first NCAA tournament appearance in 24 years.
Credit Dellavedova for making a difference. The point guard went 7 of 14 from the field, had four assists and six rebounds.
Robert Morris 59, Kentucky 57: Mike McFadden hit two free throws with 8.7 seconds remaining, and Robert Morris shocked defending national champion Kentucky in the opening round.
The Wildcats decided not to call timeout after the second free throw but Kyle Wiltjer's 3-pointer before the buzzer bounced harmlessly off the rim, sending hundreds of students onto the court as Robert Morris ruined Kentucky coach John Calipari's homecoming.
Lucky Jones led the Colonials (24-10) with 15 points but was ejected for a flagrant foul on Archie Goodwin with 3:41 to play. Kentucky, which trailed by 13 in the second half, managed to tie it twice but could never grab the lead.
Goodwin scored 18 points for the Wildcats but couldn't stop Kentucky's disappointing season come to a stunning end.
Freshman Stephan Hawkins, a Bowman Academy graduate, had a block for Robert Morris.
Maryland 86, Niagara 70: Nick Faust had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Maryland used a strong second half to defeat Niagara in the opening round.
Second-seed Maryland (23-12) next hosts Denver. The game drew a crowd of 4,053, a season-low at Maryland.
Antoine Mason led Niagara (19-14) with 24 points.
St. John's 63, Saint Joseph's 61: Sir'Dominic Pointer raced down the court and hit a jumper from the corner at the buzzer to lead St. John's to a come-from-behind win over Saint Joseph's in the first round.
Making their record 28th NIT appearance, the Red Storm (17-15) trailed by double digits midway through the first half, before rallying to take a 57-56 lead on back-to-back layups from Amir Garrett with three minutes remaining.
Hawks' forward Ronald Roberts made two free throws to tie the game with 5.7 seconds left, before Pointer's game-winner.
Pointer finished with 15 points and Big East Rookie of the Year JaKarr Sampson scored 16 points to lead St. John's.
Carl Jones and Langston Galloway combined to score 37 points for the Hawks (18-14), who were the preseason pick to win the Atlantic 10.
Louisiana Tech 71, Florida State 66: Raheem Appleby scored 27 points, and Alex Hamilton added 16 to help Louisiana Tech rally from a nine-point second half deficit to beat Florida State in the first round.
Louisiana Tech (27-6) will meet the winner of today's game between Southern Miss and Charleston Southern in second-round play.
Michael Snaer led Florida State with 24 points in his final game for the Seminoles.
Florida State (18-16) completed a disappointing season after winning the Atlantic Coast Conference a year ago.