DAYTON, Ohio (Ticker) -- Siena had a "Prosperous" first game in the NCAA Tournament.
Prosper Karangwa scored a career-high 31 points as Siena won the opening-round game of the NCAA Tournament, 81-77 over Alcorn State.
The Saints (17-18) advanced to the first round of the East Region and will meet Maryland on Friday in Washington.
"For our guys to go through all we've been through, I can't say enough about our team," Siena coach Rob Lanier said. "These kids have had a a rough time with three coaches in three years." Alcorn State (21-10) took its final lead at 73-72 on a 3-pointer by Tori Harris with 2:40 remaining. Karangwa answered with a 3-pointer to put Siena ahead for good.
Each team made a free throw before Karangwa drove the lane and converted a three-point play for a 79-74 lead with 43 seconds left.
Jeff Cammon's 3-pointer pulled the Braves within two points and they got back the ball with a chance to tie. But Harris had his layup attempt blocked by Siena's James Clinton, and the Saints scooped up the loose ball.
"When it came down to it, we dug deep and found a way to win it," Lanier said. "I am not surprised with these kids. I am impressed with the way they played. I am really proud of them." Saints guard Dwayne Archbold clinched the victory with a pair of foul shots with five seconds left.
Karangwa was strong throughout, making 12-of-16 shots with a pair of 3-pointers. He also grabbed nine rebounds and added six assists.
His big game overcame a sub-par outing by Archbold, the Most Valuable Player of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Tournament. Archbold averaged 31 points in his previous three games but was just 3-of-12 for 12 points.
Alcorn State received a huge game from Marcus Fleming, who finished with 20 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. Harris and Jason Cable added 16 points apiece.
The Braves were trying to continue their remarkable success in NCAA Tournament play-in games. They defeated Xavier in 1983 and Houston Baptist in 1984 in games that also were played at the University of Dayton Arena.
The game was a tight affair -- Siena's biggest lead was six points. Alcorn State took its largest advantage, 66-62, on a basket by Fleming with just over six minutes remaining.
Getting to the tournament was quite a ride for both schools. Siena is the lone team with a losing record in the field and was forced to win four games in the MAAC tournament to claim the automatic bid.
Alcorn State literally had trouble getting here. The Braves left their Lorman, Mississippi campus at 3 a.m. Monday morning and used two flights and two bus rides to reach Dayton.
The game also matched the youngest and oldest coaches in the tournament. Lanier is just 33 years old in his first season while 72-year-old Braves coach Davey Whitney has won 495 games in 26 seasons.
Siena evened its all-time mark in the NCAA Tournament at 2-2 and became just the second school with a losing record to win a game, joining Bradley, which won two games in 1955.