Duke students celebrate Blue Devils' 5th national title
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) All those noisy Cameron Crazies got to celebrate one more win at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium.
About 5,000 students flocked to the Blue Devils' famously loud arena Monday night to watch their school beat Wisconsin 68-63 for its fifth NCAA Tournament title.
They cheered, they rushed the court, they treated it like a home game - even though the game was played some 600 miles away in Indianapolis.
After the final horn, Duke sophomore Zach Gorwitz wore a Shane Battier jersey while running up the bleachers. He held his fists skyward and let out a scream. He calls it ''unbelievable'' and ''history'' and says ''it's a blessing ... to be a part of it.''
The students then made their way across campus to celebrate at a controlled, school-sanctioned bonfire that lasted into Tuesday's early hours. With police and security guards at nearly every turn - and television helicopters circling ahead - the celebration was tame as fans casually milled around the quad.
Josefina Aubert, a native of Chile whose husband is an MBA student at Duke, brought the couple's 15-month-old son to the bonfire because ''they are Dukies.''
And divinity student Janay Jones of Syracuse, New York, posed with a copy of a local newspaper's commemorative championship edition.
''This is amazing,'' Jones said. ''This is definitely something that will lift the morale of the university.''
The Crazies are certainly used to walking out of Cameron with a smile.
The seniors at Duke have only experienced one loss here since their freshman year, a 90-74 defeat against Miami in January that snapped a 41-game home winning streak. The Blue Devils have won 48 of 49 home games during the past three seasons.
And while the national title game was being played in Indy, the Crazies did their best to conjure up any sort of home-court advantage. They held their hands skyward and whooshed with every free throw. They chanted Grayson Allen's name after he scored six straight points and drew a foul midway through the second half.
And when Final Four Most Outstanding Player Tyus Jones hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with about 4 minutes left, the Crazies went, well, crazy - with the noise level approaching that of a visit from North Carolina.
By the time the final horn sounded, they had poured onto the court and hugged, danced and screamed for well over a minute.
For Duke, this was where a team packed with star freshmen was supposed to end up. The Blue Devils began the year at No. 4 in the preseason AP Top 25, never fell below fifth and spent six weeks at No. 2 before finishing at No. 4.
This was the first Final Four for Duke's undergraduates. The Blue Devils reached college basketball's biggest stage for the first time since winning the 2010 title.
''I'm just thrilled to be part of (a class) that won a national championship,'' said Mahsa Taskindoust, a senior biology major from New York who wore a T-shirt commemorating Duke's previous four titles.
With some students treating recycling bins like bass drums, Cameron was crazy for one last game this season as the venerable old building rocked at its customary full-decibel volume all night long.
As soon as the doors opened, there were mad dashes through the lobby, up the stairs and into the upper concourse to secure the best seats - some directly below the banners that hang behind a baseline to commemorate the school's previous four championships.
They placed a protective cover over the court, raised the baskets out of the way to the ceiling and put the TV broadcast of the game on the video scoreboard, which was lowered closer to floor level.
A line of several hundred Duke students wrapped along one side of ''Krzyzewskiville'' - the grassy plot where they camp out for the home game against UNC each year - and past the school's tennis courts. They cheered and whooped while a nearby speaker blared one of the songs that always gets them dancing at Cameron: ''Everytime We Touch'' by Cascada.
The only things missing were coach Mike Krzyzewski and his players, who are scheduled to return Tuesday afternoon for a campus celebration.
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