DENVER -- 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 couldn't miss.
Instead, he decided to go with a dream.
Executing a play that came to his coach the night before, Morehead State's Demonte Harper dribbled patiently and watched the clock tick down. Then, he stepped up behind the three-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.
"The coach said, 'Hey, I dreamed about this last night, this exact situation,' " Harper said. "He said, 'I know exactly who I'm going to. I'm going to put it right in your hands, Demonte.' He said, 'At 6 seconds, I want you to attack and pull up and hit the shot.' I hit the shot. It feels unreal right now."
After Harper's go-ahead basket, the Cardinals (25-10) had a chance to win it, but Morehead State's best player, center Kenneth Faried, blocked Mike Marra's attempt from the corner.
And that's how little-known coach Donnie Tyndall, and not Louisville's Rick Pitino, found himself on the floor of the Pepsi Center celebrating. Morehead State of Kentucky -- enrollment 9,000 at the base of the Appalachian Mountains -- won its first main-draw game in the NCAA Tournament since 1984 and will play No. 12 Richmond, a 69-66 upset winner over No. 5 Vanderbilt in a later Southwest region game.
"I think to be a first-round game against an in-state power, to be able to knock them off, I don't think it's ever been bigger than that in the history of our school," 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.
"This is as tough a loss as I've had in coaching and I've been coaching a long time," 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 program's unspectacular history. He was 2 for 9 from the floor and hadn't hit any of his five three-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 three-point range.
The Eagles, however, didn't do anything by the book in this one.
"Words can't explain how proud I am of my teammates because everybody thinks, 'Morehead State and Kenneth Faried,' " Faried said. "But it's Morehead State, The Team."