EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) --After a magical season that saw the Northwestern Wildcats make their first NCAA Tournament, they came up just short in the second round, falling to top-seeded Gonzaga in Salt Lake City, 79 to 73.
The team arrived home early Sunday morning, just hours after the game ended and while they may have lost, they still have plenty to be hopeful about looking to the future.
Despite the loss, the players said they were proud to be a part of the organization and to have made it as far as they did, even if they did not overcome Gonzaga.
"Just kind of the heartbreak and having the season over, we had such an incredible season. For it to come to an end is unfortunate. This is the last thing we wanted to do. We wanted to be practicing tomorrow and getting ready to go to San Jose. All good things come to an end I guess," said guard Bryant McIntosh.
The team arrived back in Evanston at 2 a.m. and seemed in good spirits.
"It's been an obviously crazy week. We fell a little short today, but it's been an amazing ride," said senior forward Sanjay Lumpkin.
Alumni cheered on the 'Cats at watch parties around the city.
"Kind of a rough call toward the end there, but it was a good season. It was a good game, it was much better than a lot of people expected," said NU alum Brady Edwards.
The Northwestern campus was quieter than usual with students out on spring break.
For the alumni who made the trip to cheer on the 'Cats in Utah, the loss doesn't make them any less proud of their squad.
"Walking around town, everyone was wearing purple and was like 'Go 'Cats' every time you passed them on the street and it was just so fun," said alum Gina Nolan.
"Being out here in Salt Lake City and seeing two thirds of the gym packed with some purple there, that's an amazing following. I am sure there was a lot because it was the first time, but it just shows you there is a huge purple nation out here on the West Coast," said former Wildcats football player D'Wayne Bates.