NCAA Tournament

San Diego State Tops Creighton on Last-Second Free Throw to Make First Final Four

Darrion Trammell hit a free throw with 1.2 seconds remaining to send No. 5 San Diego State to the Final Four for the first time in program history

Aguek Arop

A historic season for the San Diego State men's basketball team continues.

The No. 5 Aztecs, playing in their first Elite Eight of the men's NCAA Tournament, defeated No. 6 Creighton 57-56 on Sunday afternoon. They move on to the Final Four, where they'll face fellow first-timer No. 9 Florida Atlantic University on Saturday, April 1.

It was Darrion Trammell who helped punch San Diego State's ticket to the Final Four. The senior guard was fouled while attempting a runner with 1.2 seconds remaining and went on to hit one of two free throws to give the Aztecs a 57-56 lead.

That extended what has been the most successful season in program history, with San Diego State having previously upset top-seeded Alabama 71-64 in the Sweet 16 on Friday.

The trademark defense the Aztecs displayed in that victory, however, was lacking in the first half against Creighton.    

The Blue Jays shot 53.8 percent in the half, scoring easily in the paint to take a 33-28 advantage at the intermission. The Aztecs struggled against Ryan Kalkbrenner in the pick-and-roll as the big man scored 10 first-half points.

San Diego State picked up the defensive intensity early in the second half as Creighton missed seven of its first eight shot attempts. The Aztecs opened the half on a 6-0 run, taking a 34-33 lead on a drive by Lamont Butler.

Creighton responded with an 8-0 run that was capped on Kalkbrenner's dunk plus the foul for a three-point play that made it 41-34 with 13:14 to go. Butler hit a three to stop the run and, after a jumper by Creighton's Trey Alexander, converted a layup to cut the deficit to four. 

The Blue Jays were held scoreless for more than four minutes until Arthur Kaluma hit a turnaround in the paint to push the lead to 45-41 with 8:22 to go. Keshad Johnson then hit a hook shot plus the foul for the three-point play, pulling San Diego State within one at 45-44. Trammell then followed with a floater to put the Aztecs in front with a 46-45 lead.

Johnson's putback on San Diego State's 12th offensive rebound of the game opened a 48-46 lead with just over six minutes remaining. After Alexander and Butler exchanged jumpers, Kaluma hit a pair of free throws to even the score at 50-50.  Aguek Arop then connected on a jumper to put San Diego State back in front with a 52-50 lead with 3:58 left and added another bucket to push the lead to four.

Kalkbrenner answered with back-to-back baskets at the rim to tie it at 54-54. Mensah then hit a pull-up from just inside the free-throw line for a 56-54 lead with 1:37 left.

With San Diego State inbounding on the sideline, Adam Seiko attempted to lob the ball to Micah Parrish under the Aztecs' basket. The pass was stolen by Baylor Scheierman, who then laid the ball in to even the score at 56-56 with 32.4 seconds left.

With the Aztecs holding for the final shot, Trammell drove the lane and was fouled from behind with 1.2 seconds left by Ryan Nembhard while attempting a runner. Trammell missed the first free throw and made the second, giving San Diego State a 57-56 lead.  

Scheierman's ensuing pass down court was tipped into the air and out of bounds.

That secured San Diego State's matchup against FAU, which upset No. 3 Kansas State in the Elite Eight on Saturday.

Miami will look to become the third program in this year's tournament to make its first Final Four when it plays No. 2 Texas on Sunday. The winner of that game advances to play No. 4 UConn.  

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