BIG EAST TOURNAMENT
Georgetown falls to West Virginia in Big East final
Sunday, March 14, 2010
NEW YORK -- After trailing nearly the entire game, Georgetown had the Big East championship in its grasp Saturday at Madison Square Garden, twice tying the score against third-seeded West Virginia in the final 51 seconds.
But in the furious exchange that followed, Mountaineers senior forward Da'Sean Butler hit the basket that mattered most -- a jumper with 4.2 seconds remaining -- to deliver West Virginia's first Big East crown in school history with a 60-58 victory over the eighth-ranked Hoyas.
There was nothing elegant about this coronation. It was a bruising affair in the tradition of Big East basketball, marked by stifling defense, fiercely contested shots and near brawls over rebounds and loose balls.
And it was thrilling entertainment, with a capacity crowd of 19,375 on its feet as Georgetown's Austin Freeman hit the three-pointer that knotted the score at 56 with 51 seconds remaining.
On the subsequent Georgetown possession, Chris Wright inexplicably fouled West Virginia's Joe Mazzulla, who hit a pair from the free throw line to reclaim the lead. Wright atoned almost immediately, racing downcourt for a layup that tied it again with 17 seconds to go.
But for the second time in three days, Butler hit the game-winner -- this time, bringing an end to Georgetown's improbable run to postseason glory.
Seeded a lowly eighth, Georgetown (23-10) won three games in three days to reach Saturday's championship game. And en route, the Hoyas achieved something only two other teams managed this season: They beat top-seeded Syracuse, a near lock for a No. 1 seed when the NCAA tournament bracket is unveiled Sunday.
While the Hoyas fell shy of their goal at the Big East, they came away with a far higher national profile than they had just five days ago.
The same can be said for Greg Monroe, Georgetown's 6-foot-11 sophomore star, whose rare versatility -- excelling in his myriad roles as center, shooting guard, point guard and go-to rebounder -- was the key to the Hoyas' impressive run.
Coach John Thompson III, whose teams have reached three Big East title games in his six years on the Hilltop, said afterward that he was too disappointed to offer much perspective on the loss or his team's readiness heading into the NCAA tournament.
"I'm extremely disappointed," Thompson said, flanked by a glum Freeman, Wright and Monroe. "We got three guys here with me that are extremely disappointed. We have a locker room back down the hall with a bunch of other guys that are disappointed."
Butler paced the Mountaineers with 20 points.