DAYTON, Ohio – Jeremy Underwood came off the bench to score 19 points, leading North Carolina A&T past 21-loss Liberty 73-72 on Tuesday 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 more than 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.
Saint Mary’s 67, Middle Tennesee 54: Matthew Dellavedova scored 22 points, and Saint Mary’s got a good start to its second straight NCAA tournament appearance.
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.
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.