The atmosphere among Gonzaga University’s basketball fans dissolved to white noise of nail-biters chipping away as the team failed to maintain a lead over Wichita State’s Shockers on Saturday night.
Fans at the north Spokane Swinging Doors restaurant and throughout Spokane watched their Zags drop from the NCAA tournament and face the return home.
The packed house threw in the towel and shuffled home as the game ended. The strong anticipation fizzled and fans applied blame to missed shots and players slowing down.
“I just felt like everything (Wichita) put up – went in,” Bruce Lee said. “They had just a little mojo.”
The backseat coach in everyone kicked in with about 45 seconds to go in the game. All the Zags needed was two three-pointers and the game would be in the bag, some fans said. But as the clock ticked down to zero, the loss was met with thousand-mile stares.
Even before losing became a reality, some fans knew not to get too excited. In the end, though, Kim Ross was still disappointed.
“Just because you’re No. 1 doesn’t mean you’re going to win,” Ross said.
While the Zags picked up the pace and pulled ahead in the second half, the bar exploded. They were getting their game back, Ross said.
Hands reached for the ceiling and clapped with enthusiasm and fists drummed the tables. When the Spokane team finally took the lead, the crowd jumped out of their chairs.
The team was on the move and getting physical, Ron McKay said as he watched the game with his friends and family.
“Gonzaga has done so much for our community,” McKay said. “They’re a team that would go anywhere for everybody.”
Even though it’s time to come home, fans are confident the team will be back next year ready to try again.
Donna McGilley stayed positive because the basketball team is like family to her.
“They put Spokane on the map,” McGilley said. “When they come home they’re heroes. They’re our heroes.”