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Lamont Butler's buzzer-beater sends San Diego State to Title Game

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2023 NCAA Men's Final Four logo 2023 NCAA Men's Final Four trophy

POSTED: April 2, 2023 -- 10:10 a.m. CT

With the game clock winding down Saturday evening, Lamont Butler sank a baseline jumper to defeat the Florida Atlantic Owls 72-71 and send the San Diego State Aztecs to the NCAA title game Monday night.

Butler scored 9 points in the Aztecs' win; but, none were bigger than the 2 points he scored with his buzzer-beater.

FAU led San Diego State (SDSU) 71-70 with 36 seconds remaining in the game. The Owls (35-4) called 2 times-out to set up a final play. FAU guard Johnell Davis missed a driving layup off the glass with 9 seconds to go in the game.

SDSU big man Nathan Mensah grabbed the missed shot. The ball got to Butler. Butler raced up the right sideline; nearly stepped on the end line; looked to the clock at the opposite end of the court; and, with the clock ticking down 3, 2, Butler pulled up for his jump shot and released the ball with 1 second remaining. The ball swished through the net.

"Coach decided not to call a timeout at the end," Butler said describing the final seconds in the game. "It was about seven seconds after we got the ball, and he told me to go downhill, get something at the rim. They did a good job cutting me off. Once I looked up, it was two seconds left, I knew I had to make a shot. I got to a shot I'm comfortable with. Went to a pull-up; glad it went in."

"Lamont found a way to make an incredible shot to send us to the next round," Brian Dutcher, San Diego State Head Coach said after the win.

The Aztecs (32-6) won the game despite missing 9 free throws -- 8 in the second half.

"Just have to trust in your routine," Coach Dutcher remarked. "We made enough to win. Obviously you want to make them all. They missed a couple of timely ones, too.

"And that's basketball. That's pressure. That's game on the line, step up and make them. It's hard to do. It's easy to say. It's never the same as shooting 100 on your own in the gym. You shoot it in the stadium with the game on the line, those are hard to make."

Florida Atlantic led by as much as 14 points in the second half; however, SDSU refused to go away and FAU was unable to deliver the knockout blow to seal the win.

"They went on a run," FAU's Alijah Martin said after the game. "Getting extra possessions. And that was really the turning point of the game."

Martin led FAU with a game-high 26 points on 7 for 13 field goals and 9 for 10 free throws.

"I thank my teammates," Martin said. "They did a really good job setting me up and trusting me, and Coach May trusted me, too.

"But just looking back on the performance, it just wasn't enough. Not to take credit of what we did, but I mean, we're going to be back. We're not going to hold our head too low. We'll be back at it in a couple of days."

FAU Head Coach Dusty May said after the game, "Extremely proud of the guys' effort and the ride they've taken us on for five or six months, however long it's been. These guys laid it on the line every single practice, every single workout, weight session, film session.

"They put a lot into this, and sometimes it doesn't go your way. There's only one team in this tournament that's going to end on a win, and unfortunately it's not us this year."

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