Gonzaga students and fans gathered near the south entrance of the McCarthey Athletic Center late Saturday night as the Bulldogs men’s basketball team returned from the NCAA Tournament West Regional final in San Jose, California.
Supporters belted chants such as “history” and “Final Four” as players skipped off and high-fived the Zags’ contingent. The team filmed video on their cellphones and signed autographs for the swarming fans, obstructed only by crowd-control barriers.
The Bulldogs, fresh off sealing their first Final Four berth in program history by defeating Xavier 83-59, were thankful for the support they received upon arriving back on campus.
“This is what we do it for. This is why we work hard everyday,” Gonzaga guard Nigel Williams-Goss said. “We’re just super thankful that we were able to get these fans and give them something to cheer about.”
Brandon Lim and Michaela McDermott, two seniors and members of the Kennel Club board that runs GU’s student section, said the group had smiles on their faces as they rushed down the hill on the west side to join the fans.
“It took two tweets. That’s all it took,” Lim said.
Judy and Tyler Ferguson of Spokane decided to come out to support the team instead of enjoying their night at home. Judy, with the shoulder of her sweatshirt sporting fresh ink from an autograph from Przemek Karnowski, said they would have been missing out if they didn’t come.
“How many times do you get the opportunity?” Judy asked.
“It’s vindication,” added Tyler, who has been watching the Zags since their original Cinderella Elite Eight run in 1999. “It’s what everyone’s been saying for years that they play in too small of a conference, that they aren’t tested enough. And they were able to prove they belonged.”
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