HONOLULU - The Butler men's basketball team is coming home from sunny Hawaii with a tournament championship. The Bulldogs buried a barrage of 3-pointers en route to an 84-68 win over Washington State in the title game of the Diamond Head Classic.
Junior Shelvin Mack led the Bulldogs with 20 points, while senior Matt Howard had 14 points and 11 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. Howard was named the tournament MVP after averaging 18.7 points per game during the tourney's three games. Mack joined the 6-foot-8 senior on the Diamond Head Classic All-Tournament Team.
Butler (9-4) shrugged off Washington State's hot shooting in the first half to capture a 40-38 halftime lead. BU, after making 11-for-27 from long range against Florida State, matched that total against the Cougars. Butler dropped in three treys in the first 2:15 of the second half to extend the lead to 52-40.
The Butler lead continued to grow as moments later sophomore center Andrew Smith scored six points - including a thunderous two-handed dunk - to give the Bulldogs a 60-42 lead 13:03 to play. The Dawgs would lead by as many as 19 and would lead by double digits the rest of the way.
Smith had a career-high 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the floor and 4-for-5 at the free throw line. Senior Zach Hahn also scored 14 points, making three 3-pointers in the second half. Sophomore Chase Stigall added nine points.
Washington State (10-2), which entered the game with wins over Gonzaga, Mississippi State and Baylor was led by Klay Thompson's 31 points. No other Cougar player scored in double figures. Thompson was named to the all-tourney team along with Howard and Mack. Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn and Florida State's Chris Singleton rounded out the honorees.
Butler has now won five straight games and finished the month of December with a 6-2 record. BU has beaten Stanford, Utah, Florida State and Washington State over a span of eight days. The Bulldogs' next game is against Valparaiso at Hinkle Fieldhouse on New Year's Day. CLICK HERE to buy tickets online.