West Virginia wins Big East title
Da’Sean Butler’s latest game-winner wasn’t as dramatic as his first. This one did give West Virginia its first Big East championship.
The senior guard had a net draped around his neck, a brand new championship hat on his head and a special place forever in the hearts of Mountaineer fans.
"We wanted to win this for our state first because the people there love us so much and support us so much,” Butler said. "I definitely know it means the world to them. … That was our main concern, not letting the state down.”
Not even close.
Butler, a senior and first-team All-Big East selection, scored in the lane with 4.2 seconds left in the seventh-ranked Mountaineers’ 60-58 victory over No. 22 Georgetown on Saturday night.
That came two days after he banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer in a 54-51 quarterfinal win over Cincinnati.
"We ran the same play that we set up for the Cincinnati game,” Butler said. "They kind of overplayed one side and went the other way. I came up to the top of the key, and I had to come get the ball and they kind of switched. I think Monroe was on me. And I think he had a feeling I was going to shoot a 3. I had a little hesitation, went around him and Freeman stepped up, and I had a little hop step and scooped the layup off the glass and it fell.”
Third-seeded West Virginia, the only one of the top four seeds to escape the quarterfinals, was making its second championship game appearance. Just like the Mountaineers’ two other wins in this tournament, this one was close and Butler had a lot to do with it.
He had 20 points for the Mountaineers (27-6) and was selected the tournament MVP and there wasn’t much doubt about that.
Chris Wright had 20 points for the eighth-seeded Hoyas (23-10). His length-of-the-court drive to tie the game came up short.
"I was just thinking to get to the basket, try to finish, get a layup,” Wright said. "I had time on the clock, I wasn’t thinking about a pullup or anything, just get to the basket.”
The win left West Virginia in the running for a possible No. 1 seed when the NCAA tournament field is announced Sunday night.
"We have 18 top 100 wins. We have nine top 50 wins. Our non-league RPI was second. Our strength of schedule is going to be 1. We’re going to end up in the top two or three in the RPI,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said, reciting his team’s qualifications for a No. 1 seeding. "They say do those things, we’ve done those things.
"We are what we are,” Huggins added. "We’re just going to keep competing. If the day comes we’re going to lose in the next few weeks, we’re going to go down swinging.”
Wellington Smith had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Mountaineers, who have won six straight and eight of nine.
The championship game was the perfect cap to a tournament full of close games — seven of the 15 were decided by three points or fewer — and upsets.
Austin Freeman, who was diagnosed last week with diabetes, hit a 3 for Georgetown with 51 seconds left to tie the game at 56.
Butler missed a 3-point attempt about 15 seconds later and West Virginia was able to get the rebound. Wright fouled Joe Mazzulla out near midcourt with 27 seconds to go and he made both to break the tie.
"I made a mistake,” Wright said in admitting he hadn’t looked at the scoreboard.
Wright scored on a nice spin move with 17 seconds left for the game’s final tie.
West Virginia took a timeout with 9 seconds to go. Butler got the ball just below the foul line and hit a fallaway in the lane for the 60-58 lead.
Wright’s miss at the buzzer left Georgetown still with its record of seven Big East titles.
The Hoyas, who had blowouts wins over South Florida and Marquette around a 91-84 victory over top-seeded and third-ranked Syracuse in the quarterfinals, were trying to become the second-lowest seed to win a championship behind Syracuse, which was in 2006 as a No. 9 seed. They were also trying to become the third team to win four games in a tournament, matching Syracuse in 2006 and Pittsburgh in 2008.
The one thing Georgetown does know about its seeding in the NCAA tournament is that it will be better than the No. 8 it managed in the conference tournament.
"It’s hard to analyze that right now just because I’m extremely disappointed, we have three guys with me that are extremely disappointed, we have a locker room down the hall with a bunch of other guys that are disappointed,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said when asked about his team’s NCAA prospects. "That said, I don’t think this group ever lost confidence in what we’re doing, lost confidence in each other.”