HOUSTON – Learn the name Lamont Butler. The unheralded junior guard shot his way into Final Four lore Saturday night, sinking a game-winning jumper from the right wing at the buzzer to send San Diego State to Monday’s national championship game.
He was immediately mobbed by his teammates after his shot capped a memorable clash between non-brand name schools and capped the Aztecs rally from 14 points down in the second half.
With the shot, the defensive-minded Butler ended No. 9 Florida Atlantic’s Cinderella run, and moved No. 5 San Diego State to within one win of its first ever national championship after this pulsating 72-71 victory at NRG Stadium.
When Aguek Arop scored on a baseline jumper with 4:24 left, San Diego State had come all the way back to pull even from 14 down in the second half. Giancarlo Rosado answered on the other end to give Florida Atlantic the lead right back and Johnell Davis made it a three-point game with two free throws and 1:20 to go.
Twice San Diego got within one, and both times Florida Atlantic responded.
The third time, however, bit the Owls, as Butler, without anywhere to go and the clock ticking down, drained the jumper.
Matt Bradley led San Diego State with 21 points and Jaedon Ledee had 12. Butler scored nine. Alijah Martin had 26 for Florida Atlantic.