Cinderella no more: Wagner is ousted, but fans say it was worth it

Cinderella no more: Wagner is ousted, but fans say it was worth it

GRYMES HILL, Staten Island (PIX11) — It had all the makings of a Cinderella story for the ages, but reality set in for the Wagner College men’s basketball team in their first-round berth at the NCAA Tournament.

It didn’t dampen the spirits of the team’s many supporters, though. A couple hundred of them turned out for a watch party on the campus of the liberal arts college on Thursday afternoon. They said that it was a privilege for their team to be in the tournament at all.

“The fact that they made it this far is amazing in itself,” said Amanda Medvetz, a Wagner College junior. “So anything from here is anything-plus,” she said.

The college’s basketball team played their way into the first level of the tournament, the Round of 64, despite having a roster that was decimated with injuries. Only seven players were off the injured list and eligible for play. Those seven faced one of the powerhouses of college basketball, the University of North Carolina.

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The Wagner Seahawks held their own for the first half of the game, tying the score early in the half, and trailing by 12 at the half. However, as the second half wore on, the gap in scoring grew to a final score of 90 to 62.

People at the college’s official watch party, at its field house, said that they weren’t at all disappointed in how their team played, even if they were less than happy about the outcome.

“We played our hardest,” said Daniel Toufilies, a graduate student. “We [did] a lot more than was expected, but we gave it all our shot.”

The Seahawks were ranked 16th in their bracket of 16 teams, and they played the No. 1 seed, North Carolina, in North Carolina — a truly tall order.

The people who’d come to see the game played on national television were more than just fans. As they pointed out, at a school as small as theirs — Wagner has fewer than 2,000 students — just about everyone knows the basketball team players personally.

Kendall Tabobandung is a junior at the college. She said that the game-watching experience felt personal.

“It’s really cool seeing people that I know on the big screen,” she said “and [the commentators] talking about them, and hyping them up.”

The starting lineup of the Wagner team were all sophomores and juniors. That fact provided even more hope among supporters.

“They could build around that maybe,” said Ian Robinson, a graduate student. “Maybe the program will get even better.”

Many at the watch party vowed to return for a March Madness 2025 watch party, and, they said, they assumed that the men’s basketball team would lead them there.

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