Dukes bring the party to Pittsburgh

Ava Rieger | Staff Photographer | Haylee Myers, Alayna Steinmetz, Sara Barbagiovanni, Kaitlym Smith, Kaitlyn Nolan, Eliana Meding, Lauren Aloisio, Riley Davis, Felicity Byer, Hannah Stone and Linsey Julien sport Duquesne merch as they cheer on the Dukes at Saturday's watch party.

Emma Polen & Natalie Rodriguez | Editor-in-Chief & Staff Writer

Saturday’s game in Omaha had Duke fans cheering from the stands, as well as all the way from the Duquesne Power Center during a watch party open to all of the Duquesne community. 

Students began lining up in front of the ballroom watch room doors as early as 6 p.m., with promises of free t-shirts and other giveaways. 

Ashley Kane, the director of student programming and first-year experience at the Center for Student Involvement, said preparation for the Saturday watch party started immediately after the triumph of the Dukes on Thursday. 

Even with a quick turnaround, she said, “we make it work.”

In just one day, a team of about 25 people ran to stores, hitting multiple Party Citys, Dollar Trees, Targets and Amazon. 

“We literally cleared out their red and blue items,” Kane said. 

With a success in coordinating with vendors, one-day shipping and in-store shopping, the Center for Student Involvement were able to offer t-shirts, Duquesne terrible towels, red and blue candy, glowsticks and pom-poms.

Sgt. Frank Cortazzo was there with DuPo to provide protection, security and watch the game, he said.

“I’ve been on campus 37 years,” Cortazzo said, and this is the first time the Dukes have done anything like this. 

Students waited for the doors to the ballroom to open at 8 p.m. Some were there just for the free merch, and one student lost in the crowded skywalk leading to the Power Center doors said loudly, “I’m not even here to watch the game.” 

No matter their reason for visiting the watch party, students sported plenty of school spirit with Duquesne apparel, foam fingers and occasional chants before and during the game. 

Even though the Dukes trailed the Illini the entire game, everyone was on the edge of their seats. Students went crazy when the team scored and yelled to distract the opposing team during foul shots. 

Students were still happy to cheer on the men’s basketball team.

“It was a great to see Duquesne center stage on national television. The energy was high and the crowd was hyped,” Duquesne student Paul Horne said.

Another student, Samiya Henry, said her favorite moment cheering on the Dukes this week came during the send off Tuesday afternoon before the team left for Omaha.

“Sadly I did have to miss the watch party on Thursday because I have lab, so I had my own little watch party during class but I definitely wanted to come because I know that Duquesne University never fails on bringing the energy,” she said. “It was a lot of good energy and I genuinely think that is like maybe like 36% reason why we won on Thursday. It was just an awesome experience both here and when sending them off.”

Emma Polen | Editor in Chief | Sgt. Frank Cortazzo was at the watch party to keep students safe, but also because he was eager to see another game with the Dukes in March Madness