Count Troy Puyear among the Gonzaga fans who stayed optimistic Monday night when the Zags were down 10 at the half with the NCAA Tournament title on the line.
“I think they’ve got the skill,” said Puyear, watching the game from The Viking on North Stevens Street in Spokane. “It’s just a matter of do they have the energy?”
The Viking was among the bars citywide packed for the game, hosting upwards of 60 to 70 people separated by reserved tables.
Puyear was joined by Curtis and Jill Barville as well as Tim Devine, all of them friends from middle or high school, Puyear said. Curtis Barville said he had never seen this year’s Gonzaga team play from behind like they did Monday.
“They did against BYU, but I didn’t watch that game,” he joked, referring to the West Coast Conference title game.
The Zags never recovered, losing to Baylor 86-70.
The crowd at the Viking never quit on Gonzaga through the first half, with the bar erupting in cheers for every basket, favorable loose ball and everything in between.
Puyear said he was able to reserve the last table at the Viking late Monday afternoon, getting “prime real estate” by the bathrooms. The $9 wings were persuasive.
“Plus, we like this place,” Puyear said. “A lot of craft beer, big TVs – what more do you want?”
Jill Barville added, “We just got fully vaccinated, so we’re like, ‘we can go out!’”
The noise was audible from outside at the corner of North Stevens Street and West Sharp Avenue, where passersby could hear echoing cheers from the Viking and the Hidden Mother brewery and taproom across the street.
There, taproom manager Chris Wade was also holding out hope the Zags could narrow Baylor’s lead in the second half. While not a sports bar per se, the Hidden Mother nevertheless is a great “community spot” for people of all generations to enjoy the Gonzaga game, Wade said.
“This whole city supports the Zags,” Wade said, “and we support this whole city.”
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