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Students Storm court after win over Syracuse

Sam Stryker | Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Notre Dame men’s basketball team squeezed the top-ranked Syracuse Orange 67-58 Saturday night at the Purcell Pavilion, causing the student section to storm the court and creating lasting memories for those in attendance.

Senior Christina Kuklinski said winning against the previously undefeated Orange at home was a sports moment she was excited to have witnessed.

“It was the defining moment of sports in my four years at Notre Dame,” she said. “I have been a student season ticket holder for the last four years, and I have never seen anything like that.”

The victory marked the seventh home victory for the Irish over a No. 1 ranked team in the program’s history, and junior Roscoe Anderson said he appreciated the historical significance of cheering on the Irish as they defeated another powerhouse team.

“It was really exciting,” he said. “I had a blast to be there for such a huge event and to be part of the history of defeating number ones in the Joyce Center. It was a big deal.”

Anderson said the highly charged game atmosphere was building up even before the Irish tipped off with the Orange.

“My friends and I got there an hour before the game to get seats,” he said. “Everyone was really excited. To beat them without ever having given up the lead was huge.”

The basketball team’s tradition of knocking off No. 1 teams is a testament to the loud game atmosphere courtesy of the Purcell Pavilion fans, Anderson said.

“I think we bring a strong home court advantage,” he said. “It was really loud. Coach [Mike] Brey said it was as good an atmosphere as he’d seen in his years at Notre Dame. A lot of [the win] credit goes to the players, but I think [the fans] helped contribute.”

Kuklinski agreed and said it seemed like the players on the court thrived on the fans’ passion.

“I don’t know what it was like being on the court, but I would have to imagine that having thousands of people screaming so intently has got to be beneficial to the athletes,” she said.

Anderson said storming the court following the victory was one of the most memorable moments he has experienced as a Notre Dame student.

“It was really amazing, one of those priceless moments,” he said. “It was really crazy and hectic, but really exciting at the same time.”

Junior Margaret Bellon said even though she was sitting in the upper part of the student section, she felt the energy.

“Even in the last row, you couldn’t hear the person next to you ta3lking because everyone was cheering so loud,” she said.

Bellon said the atmosphere peaked right as the Irish were about to close out the victory and fans prepared to storm.

“Two minutes before the game ended, people came up to us and said we’re going to storm the court and we should move down,” she said. “Everyone was getting really excited and the energy was building up.”

While she was excited to attend the game, Bellon was skeptical that the Irish could pull off the win.

“I watched a couple of [Notre Dame’s] games over break and they played well in a few, but in a couple of games, they played horribly,” she said. “I remember talking with someone before the game and saying I wasn’t sure I should go because I thought it was going to be a blowout.”

But Bellon said this win held her attention throughout the entire game, unlike her experiences during Notre Dame football season.

“Sometimes there are boring drives [in football], so [the game] is usually exciting for just a little bit,” she said. “[But the basketball game] was exciting the entire time because it was moving so fast and Notre Dame was playing really well.”

Of all the games she has attended as a student, Bellon said this was the one she will remember most.

“I never have been to a game that was as big of an upset as this one,” she said. “It was really cool. Being there made me proud to be a Notre Dame fan.”