Mid-March is annually the Holy days of college basketball. But in 2020, the gyms are silent and the NCAA Tournament will not be played for the first time since its inception in 1939. We will never know what would have been for the 2020 West Virginia Mountaineers in their quest for One Shining Moment. In it’s place, let’s use the Wayback Machine to look back at the best tournament games for the Mountaineers. We are selecting the best WVU game for each round of the tournament – Round of 64, Round of 32, Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four and National Championship Game. Each day will feature a new top WVU NCAA Tournament game, culminating with the finals.
Part 5 of 6: Final Four
In 1959 Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kent., hosted the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four for the second-straight year. In this edition, the host university advanced to the national semifinals and got the advantage of playing on its home court.
West Virginia’s reward for winning the East Regional championship was a trip to face Mideast Regional champ Louisville on the Cardinals’ home floor. But playing a powerful foe on its home floor was not intimidating to this edition of the Mountaineers and their leader, junior Jerry West.
The Mountaineers dominated hosts from the outset. WVU led by 16 points at the half and was never seriously challenged by the favored Cardinals en route to a 15-point victory and a trip to the national championship game.
As he had throughout the 1959 tournament, West was dominant and made his case as the best player in the country. The East Bank High grad had game highs in points (38) and rebounds (15). West was the only player in the game to tally double-figure rebounds and had 17 more points than his next closest competitor (Louisville’s Don Goldstein, 21).
The Mountaineers continued their offensive mastery in the Final Four route of the Cardinals. The victory marked the third-straight game the high-powered WVU offense scored at least 86 points.
West Virginia had four players in double-digit scoring in the victory – West, Bucky Bolyard (13), Bob Clousson (12) and Bob Smith (12). Willie Akers grabbed eight rebounds before fouling out.
The 1959 win over Louisville remains the Mountaineers only victory in the national round of the NCAA Tournament.
Runner up: (1) Duke 78, (2) WVU 57