4 biggest plays from insane final minute of San Diego State-Creighton
We haven't had a walk-off buzzer-beater in this year's NCAA Tournament yet, but Sunday's finish to the San Diego State-Creighton contest was about as close as you could get.
The Aztecs' Darrion Trammell was fouled by Ryan Nembhard on a drive to the hoop with 1.2 seconds to play, sending the senior to the line for two shots that essentially decided the game.
While the foul and free throws were the big moment, there were a number of standout plays from the final minute of the thrilling Elite Eight game.
Here are the four that led to the Aztecs clinching the first Final Four berth in school history.
The bucket that didn't drop
Nathan Mensah gave the Aztecs the lead with a jumper with 1:37 to play, followed by the teams trading empty possessions to keep the San Diego State lead at two. With 40 seconds to play, Trey Alexander drove the lane and put up a turnaround jumper that looked destined to drop at least three different times before somehow rimming out. Ryan Kalkbrenner nearly saved the ball for Creighton after the rebound, but it sailed out at the Bluejays bench, setting up a San Diego State inbounds play.
Shocking giveaway ties the game
The Aztecs struggled mightily to get the ball inbounds from the sideline following the shocking miss, needing to use a timeout to avoid a five-second violation. The play out of the timeout somehow called for a lob under the San Diego State basket, an outcome that was almost too predictable given the sloppy nature of the contest. The pass sailed over its intended target, right into the hands of Baylor Scheierman for an easy layup to tie the contest.
Questionable foul call
A foul call that sends a career 82% free-throw shooter to the line in the final seconds is essentially a game-ending decision, whether in the regular season or the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. That's exactly what happened to decide this contest, as Nembhard was called for a very questionable foul with just 1.2 seconds left in the game to send Trammell to the line for two shots. Nembhard didn't contact Trammell to alter his shot release; instead, the whistle was for a very slight touch on the shooter's hip. San Diego State backers will likely argue that it's a clear-cut foul all day, and the referee made the appropriate call, while Creighton supporters will surely take the other side. Regardless of where you fall, it's without question the biggest decision by an official in this year's NCAA Tournament.
While Trammell is a career 82% shooter from the foul line, he's dipped to 74% this season. He also had yet to attempt a free throw in the contest before stepping to the line with 1.2 seconds left and a chance to etch his name in the San Diego State history books. The senior added to the drama by missing the first foul shot but swished the second to secure the win for the Aztecs.