There were a few smiling faces left in the Kennel on Saturday night, but they weren’t wearing Gonzaga colors.
A small group of BYU fans jumped and lingered cheerfully behind the visiting bench well after the game had ended to congratulate their Cougars after downing the No. 1 Zags 79-71 to ruin Gonzaga’s perfect season.
Zags fans didn’t hang around. Hundreds of Gonzaga fans couldn’t wait to get out of the haze of disbelieve and frustration that clouded the McCarthey Athletic Center. Many zipped up their jackets and started lining the aisles minutes before the sound of the final buzzer.
But the Zags didn’t leave the court early. They stuck around with the Kennel Club and a few remaining fans to take care of one last item on the list – Senior Night.
Saturday night was the last time Gonzaga’s seniors – Przemek Karnowski, Jordan Mathews and Rem Bakamus – stepped out on the Kennel floor in a Zags jersey. They each took turns with a microphone and faced the student section for the last time.
“It’s been a hell of a ride,” Bakamus said. “Last time I checked 29-1 isn’t a bad record.”
And the Kennel Club agreed. They cheered loudly and drowned out his final words as he handed the microphone off to the big man and then to Mathews, who didn’t shy away from the elephant in the room.
“Obviously, tonight didn’t go as planned,” Mathews said. Saturday night was Mathews’ first loss as a Zag after transferring from California for the beginning of the season.
“This has been the greatest seven months of my life. I’m so glad I came to GU,” he said.
All three of the seniors were accompanied by their families on Saturday. Even Karnowski’s parents, who reside in Poland, made the trip to Spokane to be in the Kennel for their son during his final game.
“I haven’t seen them since middle of July … it’s been awesome to see them,” Karnowski said. “I’m really happy that they’re here and they’re supporting me.”