MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - Terrence Williams scored 20 points and
No. 6 Louisville clinched the Big East regular-season title
Saturday night, beating West Virginia 62-59.
Louisville (25-5, 16-2) held on to earn the top seed in the
conference tournament, taking advantage of third-ranked
Pittsburgh's 70-60 win over No. 1 Connecticut earlier Saturday. The
Cardinals enter the tournament with seven straight wins and 17 in
its past 19 games.
Earl Clark added 13 points for Louisville, which couldn't shake
a young West Virginia team down the stretch. Neither team led by
more than four points in a tightly contested second half that came
down to the final shot.
Jerry Smith made two free throws to put Louisville ahead 62-58
with 12 seconds left. After West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler made a
free throw, Williams was fouled and missed two straight from the
line. But Butler's 3-point attempt bounced off the rim as time ran
Freshman Kevin Jones scored a season-high 19 points for West
Virginia (21-10, 10-8) and freshman Devin Ebanks added 16.
Alex Ruoff, West Virginia's second-leading scorer who averages
16.3 points, was held scoreless for the first time all season.
West Virginia was locked into the tournament's No. 7 seed no
matter the outcome of Saturday's game, but there was an extra level
Jerry West and several teammates from West Virginia's 1958-59
team were there to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the
Mountaineers' run to the NCAA championship game, where they lost by
a point to California.
The current West Virginia squad couldn't capitalize on the
West Virginia missed 11 of its first 12 shots and twice fell
behind by 10 points in the first half. The Mountaineers tied it
with a late 10-0 run, but Williams' 3-pointer with 1 second left
put the Cardinals ahead 32-29 at halftime.
With Ruoff, West Virginia's only senior, on the bench in foul
trouble for most of the second half, Jones and Ebanks kept the game
Jones scored six points early in the second half and Butler's
three-point play with 12:10 left put West Virginia ahead 41-40, its
first lead since the opening basket.
Ebanks' layup with 5:23 left gave the Mountaineers their final
lead 54-52, but Clark's 3-pointer put Louisville ahead to stay
55-54, with 4:36 left.