Fans looked on in disbelief in the Gentile Arena as the clock finally struck midnight on Loyola’s Cinderella team.
There was a buzz in the building on Saturday as supporters young and old packed the school’s official Final Four watch party — but it fizzled into disappointment as Michigan’s lead grew in the final minutes of the game.
With about one minute left, supporters started packing up and leaving. Most stayed and cheered the team on, though, even as it became clear the Ramblers wouldn’t have a shot at the NCAA Championship.
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Alumnus Michael Racines, decked out in Rambler gear complete with face paint, said he was still proud of the team despite its loss.
“Nobody thought that we would get this far, but we did and it sends a message to everybody that no matter if you’re the little guy, you still have a chance to succeed,” Racines said. “And everybody knows Loyola now, and all the nation knows who Loyola is. So it’s up from here.”
Sophomore Sarah Javid said she was “overwhelmed” by the loss, but was proud the team had made it so far.
“I’m still really, really proud of the absolutely incredible journey that they’ve had. This entire experience has been insane and so awesome, just to see everybody, not only from Loyola, but the entirety of Chicago just come together,” the 20-year-old said.
Alumna Arielle Angel, who graduated in 2012, said she was sad at the end of the game, but the team had come a long way.
“I think it’s been an amazing season and no one thought they would get this far and they have so that’s pretty awesome,” Angel said.
Moments before Final Four tipoff: Gentile Arena watch party is more crowded than arena used to be at most home games. pic.twitter.com/YwJUV786BO