ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – Downtown Abilene was painted purple as hundreds of fans filled the Abilene Convention Center to watch Abilene Christian University in the second round of the March Madness tournament.
The Wildcats were sadly bested by the UCLA Bruins 67-47, but this latest stint at the national championship was a poignant time for the Abilene community who win or lose was extremely proud of the team.
ACU’s afternoon classes were cancelled so students and staff could attend the game. Students Haley Wade and Gracie Jeffus were among those that “dropped everything” to watch the cats on this national stage.
“The vibe when you walk in here is great. Everyone is just cheering and clapping,” said Wade.
“We are so excited, this is ultimate school spirit,” Jeffus exclaimed while going for a high-five with her friend.
Alumi were also drawn to the purple and white party. Susanna Lubanga graduated from ACU in 2005 and recalls watching the historic moment the Wildcats beat the University of Texas Longhorns in the first round of the tournament.
“We were actually at a hotel for a soccer game and I think we woke the whole place up. It was just an amazing feeling,” said Lubanga.
Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams also stopped into the watch party. He says he is extremely proud of the young men on the team showcasing the hard work and talent that can come from the Big Country.
“This group of young men really I think exemplify what we want our young men to be,” said Mayor Williams.
As the final moments of the game wrapped and defeat was called, those in attendance linked arms and swayed singing a well-loved school hymn.
As the lyrics rose to the rafters it was clear that win or lose the ACU Wildcats were returning to a community that will never forget their hard work on the hardwood this season.