The San Diego State Aztecs beat the Florida Atlantic Owls by a score of 72-71. After a week of talking heads in the media complaining about there being no blue bloods in the final four, the Aztecs and the Owls provided one of the most entertaining games of the season.
The Aztecs came out swinging, and Matt Bradley in particular started the game on fire. He made his first four shots, three of them from behind the arc, and helped the Aztecs gain an early lead.
FAU came back though. They were hitting tough shots over an Aztec defense that had been smothering its competition all tournament. At the half the owls were leading 40-33.
The Owls lead grew to 14 points with about 14 minutes left in the game. The Aztecs weren’t going to go quietly into the night though. Bradley led the charge, but as has been the case all season for the Aztecs, it was a team effort.
The Owls had the ball with 37 seconds left and a one point lead. After running down the clock they missed a layup and the Aztecs got the ball with less than 10 seconds to go. Lamont Butler rushed up the floor and made history.
LAMONT BUTLER FOR THE WIN!
SAN DIEGO STATE WILL PLAY MONDAY NIGHT!pic.twitter.com/MU9cRqza7O
— Heat Check CBB (@HeatCheckCBB) April 2, 2023
It was the first buzzer beater in final four or championship history that was made by a team that was trailing.
Before today, no team had ever hit a men's Final Four buzzer-beater while trailing.
Lamont Butler said there's a first for everything. pic.twitter.com/nPowDLO9Td
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 2, 2023
The game will surely become and instant classic.
It’s a game that was a shame anyone had to lose given how well each team played. FAU scored 71 on the Aztecs, something that hadn’t been done since SDSU played at New Mexico on February 25th, coincidentally also a game the Aztecs won on a Lamont Butler buzzer beater.
The Owls shot over 40% from three, they only had 10 turnovers, they finished the game -1 in rebounding differential. They seemed to do everything right.
Meanwhile, the Aztecs almost lost the game at the free throw line, making only 13 of their 22 for 59%. In the end someone had to lose.
FAU was led by Alijah Martin who had 26 points and 7 rebounds. Freshman Nick Boyd had 12 points on 4-8 shooting.
The Aztecs were led by Matt Bradley, who had struggled last week. In games against Alabama and Creighton he scored a total of 8 points. Against FAU he scored 21 with 6 rebounds. Houston native Jaedon LeDee scored 12 points with 6 rebounds.
The Owl’s season is over. They’ll watch the championship game from home.
The Aztecs face the UCONN Huskies next on Monday night for the national championship. It will be the ultimate test as UCONN has beaten every tournament opponent by at least 13 points, and hasn’t scored less than 70 points in 5 tournament games.