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View from the Student Section: The Mac is Back

Isn’t it beautiful?

Near the end of the game against Providence, I was sent two short videos which are now included at the bottom of this post. They vividly capture what the reaction looked like from within the student section as Mac heaved up his instantly-legendary halfcourt buzzer-beater and then, again, the joyful chaos that ensued when Akinjo hit the long triple that forced a second overtime. The person who shot those clips happens to be my younger sister, a freshman who was attending the game with her roommate. While she has seen a solid amount of Hoyas basketball over the years, it was their first official BIG EAST game as Georgetown students. When it comes to them and their classmates, the team effectively has a blank slate to capitalize on, and optimism is infectious.

Remember what it was like to attend games as an undergrad, before cheeky signs and glitter were replaced by crushing cynicism and paranoia? Fellow bitter Casualties, please read this and remember what really motivates people to leave campus for basketball games. It takes a few simple--yet elusive--things:

It takes a competitive team. It takes wins. It takes hope.

Today, the students got to see all three. Here’s how that felt from within the student section.

Yesterday was a great day to be a Hoya.

And it was an even better day for the lucky alumni and students, like myself, who got to experience the roller coaster of anxiety, excitement, and elation that was Georgetown’s double overtime win over Providence first-hand.

The game came at a perfect time for students eager to enjoy their first Saturday on the Hilltop after finishing the first week of the spring semester. Hoya Blue debuted their pre-game lounge, distributed free pizzas, and there was none of the nightmarish traffic that trapped me on a bus for two hours the night of the Richmond game/National Christmas tree lighting. (Seriously. It took 30 minutes just to get from Car Barn to Wisconsin.)

The day got off to an auspicious start when I selected the “Big Head” of Hoya alumnus Nick Kroll from Hoya Blue’s collection. Sadly, John Mulaney’s head, the true hot-ticket item among the undergrads, was taken before I got there. Bradley Cooper, Michael Scott, and crying Kim Kardashian could also be spotted waving around when the Friars were taking their foul shots in the second half.

By the first media break Capital One was populated by a beautiful sea of blue & gray and the student section was nearly full. I was excited to see Mac McClung back in his starting position and hoped that I’d get to see some of the same fire and athleticism that earned him the title of National Freshman of the Week back in December. Little did I know what was in store for me down the line.

As the final 2 minutes of regulation commenced, so did an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Having watched my fair share of Hoyas games, I’ve seen a lot of blown-leads and close-but-not-good-enough finishes. But today was different. With under 4 seconds left, Mac McClung took the ball up the court and released a 3-pointer from a mile outside the arc. For a second, there was only silence. Then, the buzzer, accompanied by the swoosh of ball hitting net. Suddenly, a collective roar erupted around me on all sides.

I barely knew what was happening as the bleachers shook beneath me and I joined in the euphoria. I jumped, I yelled, I screamed, I chanted “Hoya Saxa” at the top of my lungs. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. The volume eventually returned to a normal level, but there was a detectable current of excitement pulsing through the student section. Seventeen minutes later and still riding an incredible high, I held my breath as another ambitious 3-pointer sailed towards the basket. A second later, my eardrums exploded for the second time, thanks to James Akinjo. It was hard to believe, but the game was going to a second round of overtime!

During the last minutes of play, Hoya fans and basketball players alike acquired a new and refreshing air of confidence. The team concluded the game in high spirits, congratulating each other as the buzzer sounded their 96-90 victory and the pep band played the first notes of the fight song. Jessie Govan proved yet again that he is a “beast,” as the person in front of me put it, finishing with a career-high 33 points. It wasn’t an easy win, but it was a much needed one. Games like this remind veteran Hoyas of why they fell in love with this team and leave new fans—there could have been many in the crowd today—wanting more. Here’s hoping that Georgetown can keep this energy going for the rest of the season.

Marquette, here we come.