Duquesne University students celebrate NCAA Tournament run, despite loss to Illinois

PITTSBURGH — Duquesne University was one of many upsets in the first round of the men’s basketball NCAA tournament. On Saturday night, the Dukes’ run ended in the round of 32.

Even though the Dukes lost, they still had a great season. It was 1977 when the team last appeared in the tournament. Fans said making it as far as they did is a big accomplishment and that gave them a lot to cheer for.

Thunderous chants of “Let’s go Dukes” filled the Power Center Ballroom on campus as hundreds of Duquesne students, faculty and staff packed the room to proudly cheer on the Dukes.

“It’s all about the energy,” said Duquesne University freshman Ben Chadwick. “It’s all about the excitement. We’re all here to bring everyone together.”

More than 800 people turned out for the university’s March Madness watch party Saturday night waiving towels and sporting T-shirts supporting the men’s basketball team still dancing.

Doors opened at 8 p.m. but students started lining up at 4:30 p.m. for the watch party.

“It’s super exciting,” said junior Katherine Scheller. “We’re all excited. We’ve all been wearing our Duquesne attire; we’re ready to go.”

Fans were glued to the big screen as the Dukes battled it out on the court in the NCAA’s second-round matchup against Illinois.

“It’s been so long since they’ve actually made the tournaments. It’s been like 50 years, so this is so exciting for Pittsburgh,” said Kara Hoffman, a basketball fan from West Mifflin. “They’re playing a killer game, so hey I’m all for it.”

The underdogs pulled off a big win over BYU when the games kicked off on Thursday.

“We were screaming for sure. We were very pumped,” said Duquesne University junior Carly Werner.

Werner’s friend Katherine Scheller said there was so much excitement.

“We could hear other people screaming in the building too. It was funny,” Scheller said.

Students brought those same good vibes Saturday night - win or lose.

“I think the thing about Duquesne is that we have so much spirit and if we win or don’t win, we’re pumped and we’re excited about it,” said Scheller.

Freshman Ben Chadwick agreed.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about winning or losing,” he said. “Just look at this, it’s amazing.”

The Dukes lost by 26 points. When the game ended, students still clapped for their team.

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