Associated Press3 minutes of reading
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After being fouled on a floater with 1.2 seconds left, Darian Trammell converted a go-ahead free throw and San Diego State advanced to its first Final Four with a 57-56 win over Creighton in the NCAA Tournament South on Sunday. Regional final.
Lamont Butler had 18 points and Trammell had 12 for the fifth-ranked Aztecs (31-6), who held off the top-scoring, sixth-ranked Bluejays (24-13) to become the first Mountain West Conference team in the nation. semi-final.
The veteran Aztecs, in their sixth season under coach Brian Dutcher, will play surprise East Regional champion ninth-ranked Florida Atlantic in Houston on Saturday for a spot in the national title game.
With the game tied at 56 on San Diego State’s final possession, Trammell drove to the free throw line, raised for a shot, and was fouled by Creighton’s Ryan Nembhardt. Trammell missed the first free throw, but converted the second.
Creighton’s Baylor Shearman threw consecutive inbounds the length of the field. San Diego State’s Akuk Arob and Creighton’s Arthur Kaluma both pounced on it, and the ball was deflected out of bounds. The officials reviewed the play and determined that time had expired, and the Aztecs had a celebration.
Shearman tied the game at 56 when he stole an inbounds pass and converted a layup with 34 seconds left.
Ryan Kalkbrenner had 17 points and Shearman and Kaluma each had 12 points for the Bluejays, who went 2-for-17 from 3-point range.
The Aztecs, whose defense and physical play got them this far, held the Bluejays to 23 second-half points on 28% shooting. Creighton shot 40% overall.
San Diego State shot 38% but got clutch baskets from Nathan Mensah, whose jumper gave the Aztecs a 56-54 lead with 1:37 left, and Arob, who made two straight shots to put San Diego State up 54-50 with 3:03 left.
Creighton defeated San Diego State in overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year, narrowly missing out on joining Big East rival UConn in the Final Four.
Kaluma played against his brother, San Diego State’s Adam Sieko. Their parents sat a few rows back at midcourt and sat quietly before celebrating with Seiko.