BALTIMORE (WJZ-TV) — The feeling on the UMBC’s campus was bitter sweet Monday morning as despite losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament, they still made history.
The UMBC retreivers refused to believe they were the underdogs when they went up against Virginia. That mindset paid off and put them on the map. It also granted them a hero’s welcome when they returned to campus.
The team’s Cinderella run may be over, but they did something no other NCAA team has ever done before and that is reason to celebrate.
Students came out in the middle of the night, in the cold, to show their support for the men’s basketball team as they returned from Charlotte, North Carolina.
“We just witnessed history,” UMBC student Rachel Daniel told WJZ-TV. “Just Friday night, I mean, there’s reason to celebrate, even though we didn’t win the game. We made history and I think that’s absolutely amazing.”
“Yeah, they accomplished a lot,” said UMBC student Matt Conners. “They gave us a good game to cheer on, and they gave us a good future to look forward to with our basketball program.
Coach Ryan Odom spoke to the crowd after getting off the bus.
“Thank you, guys,” Odom said. “Yeah, can’t tell you how much we appreciate you all coming out here and supporting us all year man, this is awesome.”
UMBC guard K.J. Maura scored 10 points both in the win against Virginia and in the loss to Kansas State.
“It’s a great feeling, so surreal, something we dream of as kids, making the ncaa tournament and the number one team in the country,” said Maura. “It’s been great, you know, I think we’re happy with the changes in the culture at UMBC, seeing the fans coming out here to see us at 2 a.m. in the cold. It’s a great feeling. We’re excited for what we did.”
Earlier Sunday night there was standing room only at the students center on the Catonsville campus.
“We’ve lacked school spirit and this is going to bring things up,” said one student.
Faith in this team was hard to shake, but in the end that hope was not enough to carry them to the sweet 16.
“Even though we lost today, I’m so proud of my team that we gave our best,” said UMBC student Tola Abu.
At the final buzzer fans gave UMBC’s Retrievers a standing ovation.
UMBC hopes that being in the national spotlight will bring in students and athletes from all over the world. The basketball team is now off for another week for spring break.