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As fans duel vocally, Gonzaga players stick to business of winning

Gonzaga fans cheer on the Zags against Northwestern during their NCAA second round game, Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga fans cheer on the Zags against Northwestern during their NCAA second round game, Saturday, March 18, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

SALT LAKE CITY – Northwestern was ready to fight Gonzaga for the right to play in the Sweet 16, and the Wildcats made sure to bring a barrage of fans to cheer them on in the round of 32 against Gonzaga.

A small group of fans that proudly wore their GU shirts filled up most of the seats behind Gonzaga’s bench and they did their best to fool their Zags into believing that they were back home in the Kennel. They followed the pep band in trying to drown out the rowdy Wildcats crowd with a “Let’s go Zags!” chant.

Their attempts, though appreciated by the Zags, didn’t seem to work.

The sea of purple pulling for the Wildcats yelled out “Let’s go ’Cats!” over and over again until the GU crowd quieted down.

The banter amused the Zags.

“It’s a good feeling being out there on the court and you hearing fan sides going back and forth at each other,” Gonzaga’s Silas Melson said.

The Zags prepared all week for a road-game environment in both of their matchups in Salt Lake City. On Thursday, when the top-seeded Zags downed South Dakota State, they found themselves in the middle of a pro-SDSU arena full of thousands of spectators that wanted an upset.

Despite efforts by GU fans on Saturday, the Zags said they still felt like they were on the road. And they expect it will continue to be that way as they continue on to the next round in San Jose, California.

“We’ve been in those environments before. They’re just fans, they’re going to stay in the seats,” Jordan Mathews said. “What are they going to do? Come on the court? … They’re going to be in the stands, so we’ll be fine.”


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