MORGANTOWN - After West Virginia guard Casey Mitchell hit a pair of 3-point field goals to help lead the Mountaineers to a thrilling 72-70 victory over Louisville Saturday, a small fan looked to the heavens and crossed himself.
Talk about a wing and a prayer.
"At some point," said WVU senior Joe Mazzulla, tracking the theme, "you've got to put it in God's hands. We played hard. We did everything we could do."
And the Mountaineers, almost miraculously, pushed past the No. 11 Cardinals on Senior Day, with the state's favorite son, Jerry West, in attendance, before a sellout crowd of 15,032 and an ESPN audience watching.
It's hard to imagine a finer regular-season ending for WVU, now 20-10 heading into the Big East tournament.
Kevin Jones, the Mountaineers' first-team preseason All-Big East pick, struggled to tap his potential for much of the season, but he finished with a flourish, scoring 25 points and pulling down 16 rebounds.
Mitchell, perhaps the Mountaineers' most talented - yet, at the same time, most frustrating - shooter, leaves the Coliseum on a high note.
Then there was Truck Bryant, who for most of Saturday - and most of the season - played with a loose steering wheel. Yet the junior guard calmly and confidently knocked down the game-winning free throws with six-tenths of a second remaining.
Perhaps the only conceivable scenario that would be better for WVU coach Bob Huggins is if his team was heading straight to the NCAA tournament instead of the Big East event.
"They believe they can win," Huggins said after the game.
Perhaps that's the case. There were, however, more than a few prayers answered Saturday to save Senior Day, which honored Cam Thoroughman, Mitchell, Jonnie West, Mazzulla and John Flowers.
Like when official Ed Corbett whistled a foul on Louisville's Preston Knowles with the aforementioned six-tenths of a second remaining.
"It was a controversial call," Flowers said. "We're just lucky enough that the ref had the guts to make that call."
(The ref certainly had more guts than U of L coach Rick Pitino, who refused to comment on the call or speak to the media after the game, other than to say he couldn't do so without criticizing the officials, a league no-no.)
Anyway, the end of Saturday's game was something to behold for WVU fans. And for them to remember. As the student section emptied onto the Coliseum court to celebrate, Flowers, who finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots, lay on his back with his arms over his eyes. He seemed overwhelmed.
"It was my last game at the Coliseum," Flowers said. "We got the win in a great, great game, my last game here. What a great way to go out.
"It was emotional. It just hit me all at once. It didn't hit me during the Senior Day ceremonies, but it hit me hard after the game."