NCAA Tournament: Morehead 62, Louisville 61: First upset of week
DENVER ó On the verge of seeing his unheralded, 13th-seeded Morehead State program turn into something much more impressive, the coach could have called a play for his NBA-bound center or his guard who couldnít miss.
Instead, he decided to go with a dream.
Executing a play that came to his coach the night before, Morehead Stateís Demonte Harper dribbled patiently and watched the clock tick down. Then, he stepped up behind the 3-point line and swished the shot with 4.2 seconds left Thursday for a 62-61 victory over No. 4 Louisville and the first big upset of the NCAA tournament.
ěThe coach said, ëHey, I dreamed about this last night, this exact situation,íî Harper said. ěHe said, ëI know exactly who Iím going to. Iím going to put it right in your hands, Demonte.í He said, ëAt 6 seconds, I want you to attack and pull up and hit the shot.í I hit the shot. It feels unreal right now.î
After Harperís go-ahead basket, the Cardinals (25-10) had a chance to win it, but Morehead Stateís best player, center Kenneth Faried, blocked Mike Marraís attempt from the corner.
And thatís how little-known coach Donnie Tyndall, and not Louisvilleís Rick Pitino, found himself on the floor of the Pepsi Center celebrating. Morehead State of Kentucky ó enrollment 9,000 at the base of the Appalachian Mountains ó won its first main-draw game in the NCAA tournament since 1984.
ěI think to be a first-round game against an in-state power, to be able to knock them off, I donít think itís ever been bigger than that in the history of our school,î Tyndall said.
Chris Smith had 17 points for Louisville, which closed the year on its first two-game losing streak of the season. The Cardinals played the end of the game without their leading scorer, Preston Knowles, who needed to be helped off the court after spraining his left foot with 8:51 left.
ěThis is as tough a loss as Iíve had in coaching and Iíve been coaching a long time,î Pitino said.
After Morehead State (25-9) called timeout for its last possession, trailing by one with 23.8 seconds left, Harper seemed an unlikely candidate to take the most important shot in the programís unspectacular history. He was 2 for 9 from the floor and hadnít hit any of his five 3-point attempts.
Meanwhile, Morehead State had the big fella, Faried, not to mention Terrance Hill, who had kept his team in the game by going 5 for 6 from 3-point range.