Adrian Powell made two free throws with 16 seconds to go, and the North Carolina A&T Aggies beat the Morgan State Bears, 57-54, on Saturday to earn the MEAC's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
The win qualified the Aggies, which were 19-16 and the No. 7 seed in the MEAC tournament, for their first NCAA Tournament since back-to-back appearances in 1994 and 1995. The team also qualified for seven NCAA Tournaments in a row from 1982-87. In nine NCAA Tournament appearances, they have never won a game.
Neither team ever pulled away in Saturday's title game. Morgan State led, 13-6, with more than 13 minutes to play in the first half, and that was its largest lead of the game. North Carolina A&T's lead never swelled beyond six, which came at 53-47 with about five minutes to play.
Morgan State quickly erased that deficit and got to within one point, at 55-54 with 1:31 to play, after a Blake Bozeman three-pointer. But the Bears, the tournament's No. 5 seed, couldn't get over the hump.