ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP)Lamont Butler’s 3-pointer at the buzzer gave No. 22 San Diego State a 73-71 win over New Mexico on Saturday night.
After Jaelen House’s steal and end-to-end run for a layup with 5.6 seconds left gave New Mexico a 71-70 lead, Butler unhurriedly brought the ball up court before dropping his shot, giving him 10 points for the Aztecs (23-5, 14-2 Mountain West).
”I got the ball with around 5 seconds to go,” Butler said. ”I got to half court and I fumbled it a little bit. As soon as I looked up, there were 2 seconds left and I knew I had to let it go. I’m just happy the shot went in.”
It appeared Micah Parrish’s 3-pointer with 23 seconds left that put San Diego State up 70-66 was going to be enough. But Jamal Mashburn Jr. was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 16.7 seconds remaining and he hit all three free throws – setting the stage for the wild closing sequence.
”I was calm,” Butler said. ”I knew Dutch (Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher) drew up the play for me, so I knew I had to make a play to win the game. So many hours I put in, I came out today and shot the shot and I’m glad it went in.”
Dutcher said the play was actually designed for Butler to take the ball to the basket.
”Obviously, I didn’t draw a play up for Lamont to come down and shoot a 3 with 6 seconds,” he said. ”I said we have six dribbles with 6 seconds. We tried to get him up the sidelines and get him to the rim, try to win it at the rim.
”But he came to the middle, I don’t know if they sent him to the middle or he came there, but he had the poise to raise up and knock down a really hard 3-point shot.”
New Mexico coach Richard Pitino said the long shot took the Lobos by surprise.
”We played hard. We shared the ball pretty well. They just made a big 3 at the end,” he said. ”I thought they would go to Bradley with something. I thought it was kind of gutsy for them to knock down a 3.”
Darrion Trammell scored 18 points to lead the Aztecs, while Matt Bradley added 11 as San Diego State won a sixth straight.
Mashburn finished with 20 for New Mexico (20-9, 7-9) and House had 15.
While the Aztecs’ vaunted defense was absent for the first 30 minutes of the game, it clamped down by holding New Mexico without a bucket for more than four minutes late in the second half as they climbed back from a 56-47 deficit. Before forcing seven straight misses, San Diego State was allowing the Lobos to score at almost a 55% clip.
The loss leaft the Lobos a game out of fifth place behind San Jose State in the conference with two games remaining.
San Diego State: At Boise State on Tuesday in a game between the conference’s top two teams. A win clinches San Diego State’s third regular-season conference championship in the last four years.
New Mexico: At home Tuesday to play Fresno State.
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