And once West Virginia made its way to the locker room after the game, the emotion became a bit too much to handle for Gary Browne. The senior, after his final time wearing a Mountaineer uniform, sat with his head buried in a towel and let it all out. WVU had reached the end of its road in its run to the Sweet 16 - marking the final games for both Browne and fellow point guard Juwan Staten.
It was a 78-39 beatdown at the hands of No. 1 Kentucky, the team that is - by far - the best in all of college basketball, and it was a brutal and incredibly sour taste to end a season on for this Mountaineer team. But it’s a bad end to a great year, a year in which this West Virginia team defied odds and made it deeper in the tournament than many even imagined with a roster built late during the offseason by the injection of seven newcomers into the program.
If you would have projected that this team would have made it this far, only to lose to the team that (more than likely) will be the first team in decades to finish a college basketball season with an unblemished record, I would have thought for sure that you were crazy. And WVU fans would have probably been ecstatic with the progress just two years removed from completely missing the postseason as a whole.
At the end of the day, this team has left behind a legacy that others after it will have to live up to. When you ask the players, you get a few different answers, but they all generally result in the same thing: This team is going to be remembered for its toughness, its grit, its determination. It will be thought of when people think of a team that personifies what it means to be a Bob Huggins team because of those reasons.
But possibly more important than anything else, it brought the standard of winning back to this program. The pure devastation in that locker room from players who had set a goal at the start of the season to get to the Final Four, only to see themselves come up two games short in perhaps the worst possible way they could have ended things, was tough to see. But it was a sign of how far this group has come in the few months since the start of the season.
And there was also a sense that this wasn’t it. They weren’t done yet.
Sure, for Browne and Staten this is the end of the road, but for the other 10 or 11 guys who will be back for more, this season was a sign of promise that there is more to shoot for.
It’ll be time to try to keep raising that bar even more in the future to leave behind an even more successful legacy.