Butler’s late shot leads WVU past Georgetown to win first Big East Championship
Published: Monday, March 15, 2010
Updated: Monday, March 15, 2010 01:03
Wellington Smith held a sign with a message the West Virginia men's basketball team had been waiting to call themselves for a long time: Big East Champion.
"We knew we could do it," Smith said. "And we did it."
Da'Sean Butler's circus shot in the paint with 4.2 seconds remaining gave West Virginia a 60-58 win over Georgetown, earning the program's first Big East Conference Championship. It was Butler's sixth game-winning shot of the season and the second of the Big East Tournament.
The senior ended with a game-high 20 points and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
Georgetown's Chris Wright's layup at the buzzer fell short, allowing the Mountaineers to begin celebrating at midcourt.
"We wanted to win this for our state first," Butler said. "The people there love us so much, and they support us so much. I definitely know it means the world to them. That was our main concern – not letting the state down."
It was the program's 13th conference tournament championship, which includes 10 Southern Conference crowns and two from the Atlantic 10.
"It just really makes you think about where you came from and what it took for you to get here," Smith said. "It was very emotional."
Butler also became just the third player in school history to surpass 2,000 career points with his put-back bucket with 3:40 remaining in the first half.
He didn't start as well as he finished.
The senior missed his first four shots from the field and didn't score until 8:42 into the game. His first score began a 9-0 WVU run, however, which gave the Mountaineers its first lead of the game.
Despite Wright scoring six straight points on back-to-back and-one plays at the end of the half to bring the Hoyas within two with 46 seconds left in the first half, 30-28.
West Virginia didn't trail in the second half of any of its three tournament games.
"Why settle for second when first is available?" said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. "That's how we're going to go about things. That's what is in us."
Smith finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
More importantly, however, the senior contained Georgetown center Greg Monroe.
Monroe finished with 11 points and six rebounds in just seven shots from the floor despite having nearly earning a triple-double in the Hoyas' semifinal win over Marquette Friday.
Wright ended with 20 points and seven assists while guard Austin Freeman had 14.
"I tried not to let him catch the ball," Smith said of his strategy against Monroe. "He's the engine that runs their team, so it was important for us to not let him touch the ball."
The Mountaineers were placed in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament Sunday as a No. 2 seed and will face Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference Champion Morgan State Friday.
West Virginia was hoping for a No. 1 seed in the tournament.
"They say do these things; we've done them. I don't know what else you have to do," Huggins said. "We know what we are. I learned a long time ago you don't worry about what other people say.
"That being said, we're going to enjoy this one."