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Fans react to championship loss

Anna Boarini | Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Playing in their second national championship game in as many years, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team ended their otherwise stellar season with a disappointing 80-61 loss to Baylor in Denver on Tuesday evening.

To rally student and community support for the Irish, the Student Activities Office, the Leprechaun Legion and the Athletics Department hosted a game watch at Purcell Pavilion.

Leprechaun Legion president Matthew Cunningham said the goal of the event was to show support for the team even though the game took place halfway across the country.

“Our whole goal [as an organization] is to get people to go to games and support the teams, so this event helped support the team because not many people could make it to Denver,” he said.

Legion executive vice president Kristen Stoutenburgh said the student turnout was impressive. Joyce Center officials said 1,038 people attended the game watch in Purcell.

“We are so pleased with the turnout,” Stoutenburgh said. “We really didn’t know what to expect, especially with the short amount of time.”

At last year’s national championship game in Indianapolis, Saint Mary’s junior Heidi Ryan accompanied the team as a member of the band’s drumline. She said attending the game watch in Purcell was much different from attending the actual game in person.

“The crowd was more lively in Indianapolis, but we were actually there with the players,” she said. “With us not being there, they can’t hear the fans and they can’t see us supporting them. I just with I could tell them we’re behind the team.”

Despite the Irish loss, Ryan said she would not have missed the game watch for anything.

“I have so much work to do, but I though this was a really good idea and a way to experience the game that was better than just being in my room alone and screaming like a maniac,” she said.

Sophomore Tom McGuire said the Irish women still had a great season, even though it ended on a note of defeat.

“It was rough coming in [and then losing], hoping to win the national title, especially after last year,” he said. “They were a tough team to beat, but we still had a fantastic season.”

South Bend resident and Irish fan Cathy Hall said she heard about the Purcell game watch on Facebook and decided to attend to unite with the Notre Dame fan community in support of the team.

“I’m a huge fan and I have been for 14 years,” she said. “I have so much respect for this team and it has been a joy to watch them this year.”

Hall said she is proud of the team’s efforts throughout the entire season.

“I am so grateful they are all such wonderful human beings, besides such great athletes,” she said.

Sophomore Tim Kenney said he was disappointed by the game’s outcome but still took pride in the team’s accomplishments this season.

“We tried hard and we got into foul trouble early, and [Baylor center] Brittney Griner is a great athlete,” he said. ” But I’m still proud of our success; we have talents as a team and [Irish coach] Muffet [McGraw] really knows how to coach.”

Sophomore Brian Scully said he was also saddened by the loss, but he focused more on Notre Dame’s excellent run in the NCAA tournament.

“Really, we need to look at how we got here,” he said. “It’s still been a great trip and tonight’s event reminded me of how much community Notre Dame really has. It was great support tonight.”