NCAA Tournament 2013 bracket, North Carolina A&T vs. Liberty: Aggies hang on for 1st ever tournament win, 73-72

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

N.C. A&T held off a late surge to defeat Liberty, will play Louisville on Thursday.

In the opening game of the NCAA Tournament, North Carolina A&T took care of business against Liberty, winning 73-72.

The Aggies will move on to face No. 1 Louisville behind the hot shooting of Bruce Beckford, who scored 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting in a stunning display. Liberty's John Caleb Sanders had a chance to win at the buzzer, but came up just short on a tough contested layup. Here's the .GIF:

Ncatwins_medium

Nursing a 40-33 halftime lead, N.C. A&T allowed Liberty to get within one with 13:21 remaining in the game. But a six-minute scoring drought from the Flames put them on their heels. A furious final two minutes brought Liberty back from the dead again, pulling within one once again. But Sanders clanked iron and Liberty was sent home packing, giving the Aggies their first NCAA Tournament win in 10 attempts.

N.C. A&T guard Jeremy Underwood had 19 points, shooting a perfect 6-for-6 from the field.

Liberty had three players in double figures, with 5'11 guard Davon Marshall leading the way with 22. Sanders and Tavares Speaks chipped in 21 and 17, but the lack of depth hurt the Flames. Only five Liberty players hit field goals, while seven Aggies scored from the field.

N.C. A&T reached the tournament after winning the Mid-East American Conference tournament, despite going just 8-8 in regular season play. The Aggies knocked off second-seeded North Carolina Central in the quarterfinals and No. 5 seed Morgan State in the final.

N.C. A&T will play No. 1 overall tournament seed Louisville on Thursday at 6:50 p.m. ET.

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