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Butler, West Virginia hold breath and hold on vs. Notre Dame

Da'Sean Butler held his breath and prayed.

A night earlier, he had been the star, the one who provided some Big East Tournament magic in the quarterfinals against Cincinnati.

But Friday night, Butler could only wait and hope that Notre Dame's Tory Jackson wouldn't come through.

"I saw him shoot the ball and I was like, 'Please don't let that go in,' " the West Virginia guard said. "He just came down and put it up. Either you win or you lose on that one."

Jackson's last-ditch effort was off the mark and third-seeded West Virginia survived a scare from seventh-seeded Notre Dame, 53-51, in Friday night's second semifinal at the Garden.

The Mountaineers (26-6), who have won five straight and seven of eight, will look to win their first Big East championship Saturday night against eighth-seeded Georgetown.

Butler, who banked in a fadeaway three-pointer at the buzzer to beat Cincinnati on Thursday, scored 24 points.

The Irish (23-11), who trailed by as many as 10 in the second half, had a chance to win after Butler missed a three-pointer on West Virginia's last possession.

"You live and you learn," said Jackson, who said he thought his shot looked good coming out of his hands.

Ben Hansbrough had 17 points for Notre Dame, which had won six straight.

The Irish settled for shooting long balls in the first half, and in the process, turned their best weapon, Luke Harangody (10 points), into a spectator.

Notre Dame shot just 4-for-15 from three-point range in the first half and finished 7-for-23.

The 6-8 Harangody, who entered the game with 12:09 to go before halftime, took (and made) just one shot - a three-pointer - in 10 first-half minutes.

New York Sports