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Buzzer Beater! | SDSU Aztecs head to the title game after defeating Florida Atlantic Owls 72-71

The San Diego State Men's team's historic season continues after Lamont Butler hit a jumper, sending the Aztecs to the national championship game on Monday.


We believe that we will win! 

San Diego State Aztecs defeated the Florida Atlantic Owls 72-71 on a buzzer-beater Saturday continuing their history-making run and advancing to the NCAA Tournament Championship game Monday night in Houston.

A back-and-forth game went down to the final shot. After Matt Bradley led the team with 21 points, Lamont Butler pulled off the win, hitting a midrange jumper as time expired, giving them the one-point win.

San Diego State had to overcome a 14-point second-half deficit that grew from a 7-point deficit.

FAU led by 3 with under a minute to go before SDSU's Jaedon LeDee hit a shot to cut the Owl's lead to one point, 71-70, with 36 seconds remaining.  

After FAU missed a shot, the Aztecs chose not to call a timeout and instead played for the final shot. Lamont Butler worked the clock almost down before launching the game-winner. Time expired before the ball went through the hoop, and the celebration began.

“The plan was just to get downhill," Butler said. "They cut me off a little bit. I looked up; there were two seconds left, so I got to a shot I was comfortable with. And I hit it.”

After being the first Mountain West Conference basketball team to advance to the Elite 8 and the Final Four, the Aztecs will be the first team to play for the championship. 

The Aztecs' next game will be the title game, airing on CBS 8 at 6:20 p.m. (PT) on Monday, April 3, against the 4-seed UConn Huskies. who defeated the Miami Hurricanes 72-59.

Credit: AP
San Diego State guard Lamont Butler scores the game winning basket against Florida Atlantic in a Final Four college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, April 1, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Credit: AP
San Diego State guard Lamont Butler (5) celebrates with teammates after he hit the winning basket against Florida Atlantic during the second half of a Final Four college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, April 1, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vasquez)
Credit: AP
San Diego State guard Lamont Butler, left, celebrates after scoring the game winning basket with forward Aguek Arop against Florida Atlantic in a Final Four college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, April 1, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

WATCH: We believe that we will win! SDSU Aztecs defeat Florida Atlantic Owls 72-71 | Post game analysis

How they got here

The Aztecs had never advanced past the Sweet 16 in their 14 tournament appearances before this year. The closest San Diego State has gotten to a national championship in college football since rising to the predecessor of Division I, the University Division, in 1969 was a No. 16 ranking in The Associated Press poll in 1977.

The school's lone NCAA Division I championship came in men's volleyball in 1973. San Diego State dropped the sport in 2001. The Aztecs reached the final of the NCAA men's soccer tournament in 1987, losing to Clemson 2-0.

A BUZZER BEATER! 🏀 The San Diego State Men’s team historic season continues after defeating Florida Atlantic and will move on to the NCAA Tournament final game on Monday. #finalfour #sandiego #basketball

Posted by CBS 8 San Diego on Saturday, April 1, 2023

The Owls made one NCAA tournament appearance before this season, losing a 2002 first-round game to Alabama, 86-78. Florida Atlantic is the first team to reach the Final Four after never winning a tournament game in previous seasons since George Mason in 2006.

The Boca Raton-based university was founded in 1961, opened in 1964, began its basketball program in 1988 on the Division II level, and moved to Division I in 1994.

San Diego State (31-6) was seeded fifth in the South Region and 17th overall in the field of 68. The Aztecs defeated College of Charleston, the 47th overall seed, 63-57, in the first round; Furman, the 53rd overall seed, 75-52, in the second round; Alabama, the No. 1 overall seed, 71-64, in the Sweet 16, and Creighton, the 22nd overall seed, 57-56.

Florida Atlantic (35-3) was seeded ninth in the East Region and 33rd overall. The Owls defeated Memphis, the 29th overall seed, 66-65, in the first round; Fairleigh Dickinson, the 68th overall seed, 78-70, in the second round; Tennessee, the 14th overall seed, 62-55, in the Sweet 16, and Kansas State, the 11th overall seed, 79-76, in the Elite 8.

WATCH: SDSU Aztecs students, alumni, and fans gear up for Final Four game:

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