Sad end leaves fans in disbelief

By Kyle Moncelle

Last night, the entire University campus shut down. Homework was not done, chores were pushed aside, and nearly every television on campus was tuned to the same program. What could possibly be so powerful as to command so many people to pay no attention to their responsibilities? Why, Illinois basketball of course.

With the Illini playing in the NCAA Championship, many of the University residence halls hosted their own game parties, to give the students a safe and convenient alternative to watching the game in larger places.

“Assembly Hall and the bars have their perks, but I had some homework to do before the game started so my dorm was a more convenient choice for me,” said Lauren Lindholm, freshman in LAS.

The mood of the day was very intense from the start.

“I felt that the entire day was just a cloud of anticipation,” said Mark Pavel, sophomore in FAA. “The day’s a blur, nothing went in, and nothing came out. I just wanted it to be game time.”

Throughout Monday, the campus was a sea of orange.

“I’ve never seen so many people wearing orange before,” said Kelli Ferguson, freshman in LAS. “It made my day go by so much faster.”

At 7:45 p.m., shouts of “I-L-L! I-N-I!” echoed up and down the corridors of Forbes Residence Hall as the residents prepared for the game. Residents who had applied body paint were running through the halls, ready for the game to start. But the loud cheers during the pre-game show were quieted instantly as Illini head coach Bruce Weber appeared on screen, giving his pre-game pep talk to the team.

As the players were introduced, the crowd of about 30 residents cheered as loudly as if they were at the game. They linked their arms, swaying and screaming, mimicking the Orange Krush.

Shouts of excitement and sighs of disappointment were heard throughout the small crowd as the Illini traveled back and forth on the court during the first few minutes of the game, trading the ball with North Carolina.

“I can’t breathe,” Ferguson said. “I’m about to hyperventilate because this game is so close.”

Spirits were down at halftime when the Illini trailed 40-27, but the mood was still optimistic. The crowd, although disappointed, knew that there were still 20 minutes left to play.

“You get so nervous sometimes that you feel like you’re going to have a heart attack,” said Jenny Bozzetti, junior in LAS. “You just have to stay strong. You have to keep hope.”

The Illini returned to the floor for the second half, and the crowd had no idea what they were in store for. They knew that the team was down but that they had come back from a similar situation before.

“I remembered what happened against Arizona,” said Allison Ziola, freshman in engineering. “I was just waiting for us to get in the lead again.”

The Illini were soon on a 10-0 scoring run, and the crowd was cheering louder than they were when the team was ahead.

“It feels amazing,” said Jamie Pool, freshman in engineering. “It makes me more energetic, more excited. It makes me want to cheer them on even more.”

But in the end, the Illini fell to North Carolina by five points. As North Carolina celebrated, the crowd at the Forbes lounge sat silent in disbelief.

“It was right there, you know, that was the thing,” Pavel said of the loss. “We could see it and we stumbled, right at the end.”