Fairfax, Va. — No burning mattresses, no bonfires. Just unrestrained jubilation after George Mason advanced to the Final Four.
After George Mason's 86-84 overtime victory over top-seeded Connecticut on Sunday, more than 7,000 students stormed what is normally a sleepy campus on weekends for a pep rally at what is essentially a commuter school.
"I didn't even know they had a basketball team," freshman Mar'esha Farrish of Hopewell, Va., said, thinking back to when she enrolled at the school in the fall.
One of the most diverse student bodies in the nation, the scene at the Patriot Center pep rally reflected that diversity. Coeds wearing Muslim head scarves cheered raucously alongside face-painting frat boys when coach Jim Larranaga and the squad entered the arena a little before 8 p.m.
The players were taken aback when they walked on the court and were greeted with a nearly full arena and a deafening roar.
"Man, we never even had this many people here for a basketball game," senior guard Tony Skinn said.
Did he resent any of the fans hopping on the bandwagon as the team progressed through the tournament?
"No, I'm cool with it. I'm cool with it," he said, pumping his fist.