West Virginia Take Big East Crown As Butler Does It Again

Published on: 14th March, 2010

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Big East champions
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New York –  West Virginia was only the third-seeded team in the Big East tournament when this annual get-together began here at Madison Square Garden five days ago but when the conference championship game tonight was all said and done, they were something else, as well. The Mountaineers were Big East champions for 2010.

In a stirring game between the 22nd ranked Hoyas of Georgetown and Bob Huggins’ seventh ranked team, West Virginia came away with a 60-58 win when their leading scorer, Da’Sean Butler hit a shot in the lane with 4.2 seconds in the game to break a tie and give West Virginia the first Big East championship in its storied history.

“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.”

There was no doubt as to where the ball would go when West Virginia took the ball out with nine seconds to go. Butler has made it a habit of winning games on last shots, having done so five times this season, including last Thursday night on a 25 foot buzzer beater against Cincinnati. As Cincinnati did in that game, Georgetown opted not to have any player on the ball when it was being passed in from out of bounds. Butler got a clear look  at the pass, took three dribbles to his left to get into the lane and flung an awkward looking shot towards the basket. It rolled around and dropped in as the West Virginia throng in a delirious Madison Square Garden exploded.

“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.”

Georgetown took the ball out without any timeouts as their leading scorer, Chris Wright grabbed the pass and sped upcourt to try to tie the score or hit a three point shot to give Georgetown the win. Wright’s sole purpose was to go right to the hoop, never thinking of taking a game-winning three-pointer.

“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 pull-up or anything, just get to the basket.”

The game was close throughout  with West Virginia generally holding slim leads but it was in the final minutes when the tension was so thick, you could cut it with a knife.

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 soon made up for his faux pas when he scored on a nice spin move with 17 seconds left for the game’s final tie. That set the stage for Butler’s heroics.

This win may have set West Virginia up to be one of the four schools on top of the bracket, as a number one seed in the upcoming NCAA national championships, aka, March Madness.

“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.”

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.”

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