DAYTON, Ohio --- Matt Dickey and North Carolina-Asheville injected a little customary March drama into the NCAA's new-look tournament.
Dickey led a late run that brought overtime, and J.P. Primm hit five free throws and had a decisive steal in the closing seconds Tuesday night, sending UNC Asheville to an 81-77 victory over Arkansas-Little Rock in a dramatic "First Four" opener.
"We don't have any quit in this team," UNC Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach said.
The Bulldogs (20-13) will play Pittsburgh, the top seed in the Southeast, on Thursday in Washington, D.C.
UNC Asheville pulled it out with a tournament-worthy performance by its best player. The Bulldogs led for only 51 seconds in regulation before Dickey asserted himself. He scored 14 of the Bulldogs' last 18 points in regulation, including a 3 with 10.5 seconds to go that tied it.
"I hit one in the corner and it was a good time for it to fall," Dickey said.
Primm and Dickey had 22 points apiece.
Alex Garcia-Mendoza matched his career high with 21 points for Arkansas-Little Rock (19-17). The Trojans played overtime without Solomon Bozeman, the Sun Belt's Player of the Year who fouled out in the final minute of regulation. He finished with 18 points.
There were five lead changes in overtime, the last coming on Primm's two free throws that made it 78-77 and put the Bulldogs in position to win.
The Bulldogs became a footnote in NCAA Tournament history. They were the opening act in the "First Four" -- four games over two days at the University of Dayton Arena, part of an expanded 68-team field.