HONOLULU -- Matt Howard early and Shelvin Mack late. The formula worked to perfection during the Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center, as Butler used a 15-0 run in the second half to breeze past Washington State, 84-68, in the championship game on Saturday night on ESPN2.
In its fifth straight win (9-4), Butler received 20 points from Mack, who scored a combined 37 points in the last three halves of basketball he played in Hawaii. Howard, who scored 23 points in the tournament-opening win over Utah, posted a double-double on Saturday, going for 14 points and 11 boards in the championship.
Howard earned tournament MVP honors, while Mack joined his teammate on the All-Tournament Team.
Washington State entered the week receiving votes in both the AP and Coaches' Polls, justifying the ranking by advancing to the championship and opening the game on a torrid shooting pace. However, the Bulldogs overcame the hot-shooting Cougars to take a two-point lead into intermission, 40-38.
Matching and besting Wazzu's shooting, Butler knocked down 11 three-pointers in the game, dropping three triples to come out of the locker room at the half, extended its lead to 52-40.
Andrew Smith scored the Bulldogs' next six points, accentuating the run with a monstrous two-handed slam that put the Dawgs up 18 with just over 13 minutes remaining. The sophomore finished with a career-best 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting.
Zach Hahn, who entered the game struggling with his shot, led the three-point barrage, hitting 3-of-6 attempts from distance to post 14 points.
In the span of eight days, Butler knocked off two Pac 10 opponents (Stanford, Washington State), a foe from the ACC (Florida State) and a Mountain West squad (Utah). As a whole, the Horizon League has tallied six wins over "Big 6" conference members since Dec. 18, going 6-3 in that span.