DENVER – On the verge of seeing his unheralded, 13th-seeded Morehead State program turn into something much more impressive, Coach Donnie Tyndall 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 previous night, Demonte Harper dribbled patiently and watched the clock tick down. Then he stepped behind the 3-point line and swished the shot with 4.2 seconds left, lifting Morehead State to a 62-61 victory Thursday over No. 4 Louisville in the Southwest Regional for the first big upset of the NCAA men’s basketball 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 fourth-seeded 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 when the little-known Tyndall, and not Louisville’s Rick Pitino, found himself on the floor of the Pepsi Center celebrating. Morehead State won its first main-draw game in the NCAA tournament since 1984 and will play No. 12 Richmond, which also pulled an upset by beating No. 5 Vanderbilt.

“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 hurting his left ankle 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 a timeout for its last possession, trailing by two 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 3-point attempts.

Meanwhile, Morehead State had their big man, Faried, not to mention Terrance Hill, who had kept his team in the game by going 5 for 6 from 3-point range.

The Eagles, however, didn’t do anything by the book in this one.

If they were going to win, it was supposed to be on the shoulders of Faried, the all-time rebounding leader in Division I. Faried had 17 rebounds but had a terrible day from the field — 4 for 17 for 12 points — and wasn’t the biggest factor in this game.

He’ll get another chance, though. He can thank Harper, whose only shot of the second half gave him a total of eight points, and Hill, who scored a career-high 23, including 12 during a 16-4 run that turned a seven-point deficit into a 57-52 lead with 5:24 left.

“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. It just speaks volumes about my teammates who just stepped up.”

Trailing 57-52, Louisville answered with the next nine points and the upset chances looked all but over with 1:14 left. But the Eagles worked the ball to Faried and he was fouled and converted two free throws to pull his team within 61-59. Then Morehead State fouled Elisha Justice, who missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to close his team’s 7-for-16 day from the free-throw line.

Faried got the rebound and Tyndall set up the play that made Morehead State a winner.

As game-winning plays go, this one was quite simple. No picks, no passes.

Harper took the inbounds pass in the backcourt, wasted a few seconds, dribbled across the line and stood there dribbling for a few more seconds. Then he improvised: a little move to the left to create some space against Peyton Siva, then a jumper that dropped in cleanly.

Tyndall said the play came to him during an all-but-sleepless night on the eve of the game.

“I kept saying, ‘What am I going to do here?’” he said. “I just said, ‘Man or zone, down one or down two, we’re going for the win.’

“Demonte struggled from the 3-point line, but he’s better at creating his own shot off the dribble than Terrance is.”

Faried punctuated the win with his block on Marra.

“I don’t think there was any luck involved,” Tyndall said. “We were just very, very fortunate to make one more play than they did.”