In yet another clutch performance, Da'Sean Butler scored the game-winner against the Hoyas on a driving, off-balance shot with four seconds to go. The scoop shot was Butler's second game-winner in three days, and put the final touch on a magical tournament.
Against Georgetown, the senior got off to a slow start, missing his first four shots and not getting on the board until just over 11 minutes remained. However, befitting his experience, he didn't panic, and again wound up as West Virginia's leader across the board.
Playing all 40 minutes, the tournament MVP scored 20 points, grabbed six rebounds, dealt out two assists and blocked a shot. He made all five of his free throws. Butler made seven of his final 15 attempts from the field as he literally willed his team to victory.
At this point, Butler might well have retired the player of the game honors for this year. Can anyone imagine a better three game stretch, in a more crucial situation, than what Butler has just recorded?
Wellington Smith had an excellent farewell to Madison Square Garden as well. The New Jersey native helped WVU recover from some early shooting woes with a pair of first half rebound tip-ins for scores, and those were the linchpins in his outstanding first half performance. In the opening 20 minutes, Smith scored nine points and had six rebounds in 18 minutes of action. Three of those rebounds came on the offensive end, and he balanced those out with three on the opposite end of the court, as well as two big blocked shots.
"I had some good games in high school, but it's hard to remember if I had a better half than this," Smith said afterward in the exuberant Mountaineer locker room.
He finished the contest with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds, and added an assist and the two blocks to his final line. It was the second double-double of his career, and could not have come at a better time for a team looking for support for Butler.
Joe Mazzulla stepped in for a sputtering Truck Bryant and delivered an outstanding performance at point. The banged-up junior dished out seven assists against zero turnovers, and did a masterful job in running the Mountaineer offense, Although he did not score from the field, he hit all six of his free throws, including four down the stretch that helped the Mountaineers hold on to their slim lead. In all, it was a gutty performance from a player known for them.
"I thought the last -- what's it been, three games -- he's been really, really good," head coach Bob Huggins said. "He broke the defense down, got the ball to the basket for us. For a guy that they don't think can shoot because of his shoulder, he went to the free-throw line and made shots for us."
Mazzulla showed flashes of his old pile-driving ability in penetrating the defense and getting to the free throw line, but his improved decision-making ability made him an even more dangerous weapon.
WVU's defense was able to limit Hoya big man Greg Monroe to 11 points and six rebounds. While those numbers aren't bad, they are a far cry from what Monroe has been putting up recently, and were key in helping limit the Georgetown offense. With Smith, Kevin Jones, Cam Thoroughman and Deniz Kilicli taking turns against the Hoya star, WVU was able to hold him in check.
"We wanted to limit his touches," WVU assistant coach Larry Harrison said of the key to the West Virginia defensive effort. "We wanted to make him work hard every trip, and not allow him any easy points."
West Virginia accomplished that, and held Monroe to just seven field goal attempts in 38 minutes of action. The efficient Hoya center was able to produce 11 points largely on the strength of five free throws, but he was never able to establish the dominance that he had shown in Georgetown's preceding two tournament games.