Trey Calvin hit the game-winning shot with four seconds left and led four Raiders in double figures with 21 points. Tanner Holden added 19 and Grant Basile chipped in with 18.
Marques Warrick was the high man for the Norse with 28 and Trevon Faulkner scored 14 as Northern Kentucky was seeking their fourth NCAA bid in the last six years.
Wright State (21-13) knocked off top seed and defending champion Cleveland State in the semifinals before their rally in this championship game to earn their first NCAA bid since 2018.
Story of the game
Northern Kentucky started the game scoring the first six points, hitting three straight shots while Wright State missed six of their first seven. The game's changed when Basile and Warrick both picked up their second fouls within seconds of each other.
The Norse held the Raiders scoreless for 2:08 and led by as many as six points with 9:27 left in the first half, thanks in part to Trey Robinson's three-pointer that gave Northern Kentucky a 22-16 lead.
Calvin scored 13 of Wright State's first 24 points. Bryson Langdon scored 10 of Northern Kentucky's first 28 points and a triple by Warrick ended a nearly four-minute field goal drought that gave the Norse a 33-28 edge with 3:48 left.
Northern Kentucky were getting sloppy with the ball, committing four turnovers in a 3:37 span, but Faulkner buried a crucial three for a 36-30 edge.
He scored the Norse's last six points, converting all three free throws 9.6 second left after being fouled. That gave the third seed a 39-32 halftime lead.
Warrick started the second half with a layup and another three-pointer, giving Northern Kentucky a 44-34 lead. Wright State endured a five-minute field goal drought, the Norse increasing their advantage to 51-37.
Marques Warrick pushed the advantage to 57-41 with 11:41 to play, but a dunk by Basile keyed a 14-0 Wright State run that brought them to within three points with 8:35 to play.
Basile converted a three-point play to make it 57-53 and assisted on a layup by Andrew Welage. Holden scored eight points in the run. The Raiders made nine of ten field goals in that stretch.
Tim Finke hit a mid-range jumper with 6:24 left to tie the game at 61 and Holden drove for a reverse layup to put Wright State in front. Trevon Faulkner's free-throw brought the Norse within two points with 1:01 remaining, setting up the classic finish.
Warrick put Northern Kentucky ahead 71-70 with a three-pointer with 20 seconds to go. Calvin responded with the game-winning jumper with 10.5 seconds left.