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“It was a heck of a run!” Fans show support, pride as Badgers arrive home in Madison

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MADISON (WITI) -- The Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball team arrived in Madison Tuesday, April 7th after a heartbreaking loss to the Duke University Blue Devils in the national championship game on Monday. The team posted the following tweet on Tuesday afternoon.

Wisconsin lost to Duke by a 68-63 margin -- after having as much as a nine-point lead late in the second half.

Jahlil Okafor scored two big buckets late and his freshman buddy Tyus Jones hit a key 3-pointer to lift Duke to its fifth national title.

Okafor spent big chunks of the second half on the bench after drawing his third, then his fourth foul.

When he returned, he beat Wisconsin's big man, senior Frank Kaminksy, for a pair of buckets, then Jones hit a 3-pointer to complete a run from nine down to eight up with 1:22 left.

Blue Devils Coach Mike Krzyzewski captured his fifth title, putting him in second place alone behind John Wooden.

Kaminsky outscored Okafor 21-10 but came up short in his last game, as the Badgers (36-4) couldn't duplicate their thrilling win over Kentucky two nights earlier.

Jones led the Blue Devils (35-4) with 23 points.

The loss was devastating for a Wisconsin bunch that lost to Kentucky in last year's Final Four, and then decided to come back together for one last run at it. The Badgers avenged that defeat in the semifinals, beating the undefeated Kentucky, but Frank Kaminsky and Co. couldn't finish the job.

Now, Kaminsky and fellow senior Josh Gasser are moving on. Junior forward Sam Dekker could also have played his final game with some expecting him to be a first-round draft pick.

"It was a heck of a run, and really proud of everybody that contributed," Eric Zoromski said.

Pride in the team was a shared sentiment among fans at the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison.

"They did terrific! Life isn`t winning everything. To see the whole team work together, it`s gonna lengthen my life! It really is!" Bernie Hebb said.

"The whole weekend was fantastic -- just the support that people gave to the program and gave to the players," UW Associate Athletic Director Justin Doherty said.

The support still showed strong on State Street on Monday night, despite the loss. But on Tuesday, there was a little less pep in some fans' step.

"(Monday) you were kinda walking with a hop and you were really excited and now it's just like 'oh.' It feels totally different," Haley Bernas said.

Inside Madison's Nitty Gritty, Michael Palcic, assistant general manager says the day after the dream was destroyed, there was an expected but unfamiliar lack of enthusiasm coming from fans.

"It was just a real sad and somber feeling. I don`t know if it`s because of the overcast skies. It felt a little different. You didn`t have as much energy as, you know, the past few days," Palcic said.

3 comments

  • Mr. Bob

    It was a good run. We beat the undefeated team from Kentucky that directs racial slurs at white people and refuses to shake hands after the loss. This Badger team showed nothing but class throughout the tournament and was very competitive in the loss to Duke. Go Badgers!!!!

  • Leonard Lelko

    Did Duke really win ??? To me NO. The badgers had class ,were tough and did all they could at the time.All while going to a great University.I don’t think there is not a family member or friend that isn’t proud.There is a reason most of the country was pulling for you. :)

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