Buzzer-beater sends Aztecs to first championship game
Tell them the Butler did it if anyone asks how the San Diego State Aztecs advanced to its first National Championship Game in program history.
Trailing the ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic Owls by one with seconds to go and the clock running, SDSU’s Lamont Butler nailed the game-winner at the buzzer, capping off a 72-71 comeback win for the ages by the Aztecs.
FAU led 71-70 with 18 seconds to go and possession of the ball. Needing a defensive stop, Aguek Arop stepped up, blocking a Johnell Davis attempt to set the stage for Butler’s heroics.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, Butler is only the fifth player to hit a buzzer-beater in the Final Four, joining Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs (2021), Villanova’s Kris Jenkins (2016), N.C. State’s Lorenzo Charles (1983) and Marquette’s Jerome Whitehead (1977).
Things looked bleak for the Aztecs late, as they trailed the Owls by as many as 14 points in the second half. San Diego State slowly chipped away at that deficit, though, making their way back into the game in the process. Over the final eight minutes of game-time, the Aztecs held the Owls to only two field goals while outscoring FAU 12-6.
SDSU’s strong play down the stretch helped them complete the fifth-largest comeback in Final Four history.
Matt Bradley led the offensive charge for the Aztecs and was one of two SDSU players to finish in double-figures on Saturday, scoring 21 points in the victory. The other to hit double-digit points was forward Jaedon LeDee, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds off the bench.
On the FAU side, Alijah Martin paced the Owls’ effort, posting a game-high 26 points while adding seven boards.
With the wild win, fifth-seeded San Diego State advances to Monday’s National Championship Game at NRG Stadium, with tip-off scheduled for 8:20 p.m. EST. They will face the winner of Saturday night’s matchup between Miami and UConn.