MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Da’Sean Butler’s long jumper from the wing with 2.3 seconds left gave No.6 West Virginia a 63-62 comeback victory over Marquette on Tuesday evening at the WVU Coliseum.
Trailing 62-57 with 41 seconds left, sophomore Kevin Jones’ offensive put-back cut West Virginia’s deficit to 62-59. Jones then fouled Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom, who missed a one-and-one free throw that Devin Ebanks rebounded and went the length of the court for an uncontested slam dunk to make it 62-61 with 18 seconds left.
West Virginia went to its full-court pressure, eventually following Jimmy Butler with 12 seconds left. Butler proceeded to miss the one-and-one opportunity to set up Da’Sean Butler’s heroics, as the Newark, N.J., native dribbled the length of the floor before nailing the game-winning jumper.
After officials reviewed the shot to make sure Butler’s foot was on the 3-point line, Marquette was forced to inbound the length of the floor. With Ebanks providing great pressure on the inbounder, Joe Mazzulla intercepted the baseball pass to secure the Mountaineer victory.
“Devin seemed like he wasn’t going to let us lose,” coach Bob Huggins said. “The play that Devin makes to get it to one, that’s a 6-foot-9 guy who they didn’t want to foul. There are not a lot of guys that have the courage to make that play. We had some guys who stepped up and some guys who didn’t step up.”
WVU’s trio of Butler, Ebanks and Jones came through once again. Aside from making the game-winning basket, Butler finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Ebanks, coming off both conference player of the week honors and Oscar Robertson national player of the weeks honors, scored 19 points with eight rebounds and four assists.
Much like he has all season, Jones took control of the paint and finished with 18 points and three rebounds. West Virginia was heavily reliant on the play of Jones on the inside blocks, often calling his number when a basket was sorely needed.
Jones’ effort allowed the Mountaineers (11-0, 2-0) to double Marquette’s production in the paint, outscoring the Golden Eagles (9-4, 0-1) 40-20. West Virginia shot well from the field, going 28 of 55 (50.9 percent), including 4 of 8 from 3-point range.
The Mountaineers presented size problems for Marquette all night, with each starter standing at 6-foot-7 or taller. In contrast, the Golden Eagles did not have a starter taller than 6-foot-7, making it increasingly important for Marquette to shoot well from long range.
The Golden Eagles responded by shooting a blistering 62.5 percent (10 of 16) from 3-point distance. Senior forward Lazar Hayward scored a game-high 24 points, while the conference’s leading 3-point shooter in Johnson-Odom added 14 points. Marquette also got to the free throw line more than WVU, going 8 of 12 in comparison to WVU’s 3 of 4 performance from the charity stripe.
Devin Ebanks' last second 3-pointer to end the first half proved to be quite big for the Mountaineers.
“I hope I don’t have to think about this past tonight,” Huggins said. “It’s been a chronic problem for us, we get up 7-0 and we stop running our offense. We do dumb things, we make a dumb foul, and we weren't doing what we were told to do in the scouting report. We haven’t put anybody away.”
The Mountaineers outrebounded the much-smaller Golden Eagles, 34-22. West Virginia got itself in trouble with 16 turnovers, but made several plays down the stretch to mask its early miscues.
Point guard Mazzulla played 17 solid minutes for West Virginia. Despite playing with a sore left shoulder, the redshirt junior made his trademark hustle plays, defended well and chipped in with a key basket to make it a 59-57 deficit with 2:43 remaining.
“We put Joe in there and he gave us great minutes and great hustle plays,” Huggins mentioned. “We’re going to have to keep playing him more minutes. He made the one bad decision trying to throw it through three guys in transition, but he put pressure on the basketball and didn’t get beat to the basket.”
West Virginia trailed 37-33 at halftime as Marquette used a 7 of 11 effort from 3-point range to spark its offense. Hayward found his stroke early, scoring 17 points on four 3-pointers as the Golden Eagles looked toward their outside shot to attack WVU’s defense.
Several lead changes occurred in the first half. Truck Bryant came off the bench and gave the Mountaineers an immediate boost when he drew a charge and then helped WVU retake the lead at 24-22 on a driving layup with 4:52 remaining. Later, Jones hit a 3-pointer from the corner to give West Virginia a 27-24 lead, but Marquette came back with a 10-0 run capped by a layup from Maurice Aker with 1:02 remaining.
Ebanks scored WVU’s last six points before halftime, getting an offensive put-back with the foul to cut the deficit to 34-30. After Hayward canned a 3-pointer from the corner, Ebanks came down and hit a 40-foot jumper as the clock expired.
“Marquette played very well. They did what they had to do to win and seemingly made every open shot. Every time we made a bad rotation or didn’t rotate, they made every shot,” Huggins said.
West Virginia faces one of its toughest matchups of the season against No. 4 Purdue on Friday at 2:30 p.m. at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. The contest will air on ESPN.
The undefeated Boilermakers won their conference-opener tonight against Iowa, 67-56.