Community celebrates as Rocket women nab 10-seed in NCAA tourney
The University of Toledo women's basketball team will play Creighton Friday night in Corvallis, Oregon.
The announcement was made Monday night during an ESPN broadcast.
Fans joined the Rockets at Savage Arena to watch the selection show. They also joined in as the women jumped out of their seats when the school was announced on the big screen.
"I woke up yesterday and I had to look at my (MAC Tournament) medal, it felt like a dream," said Sophie Reecher, a senior center. "So to see your name up there during the selection show makes it seem more real."
Toledo was awarded a 10-seed in the tournament, matching up with seven-seeded Creighton. A sign of respect, the Rockets felt.
"Normally MAC teams are seeded 11-13, so that's kind of what we were expecting. To see (the) ten, we were all ecstatic," Reecher said.
While it's the team itself that brought home the tournament championship and it's the team itself heading to Corvallis -- Monday's event was more of a community celebration than a team celebration.
"They've been here every single night," said head coach Tricia Cullop of the fans and their support.
Savage Arena has proven to be a hot ticket -- UT has ranked in the top 30 in attendance nationally over the last five years.
Longtime fans say Cullop has played a major factor in the ongoing interest from outside the program.
"She's brought a home atmosphere to it," said Les Rupert, a season ticket hold and 1972 graduate of Toledo. "She's made believers out of her other coaches, the players and certainly everybody in the community."
A community that believes in its team.
"It seems like it's a true team, they're unselfish. That's the greatness of it," Rupert adds.
On more than one occasion Monday night, Cullop referenced the final moments of Saturday's tournament-clinching win in Cleveland.
"People were just bawling in the stands. They were happy tears because they wanted this to happen for so long. They've been so loyal to us so I'm glad we could give them what they've wanted for so long."
You could say that was a banner moment during a banner season.
Friday's game is scheduled for approximately 7:30 p.m. Ticket information is expected to be announced on Tuesday.