VALPARAISO │ Valparaiso students and fans from the community packed Harre Union on Thursday to watch the Crusaders basketball team face off against Michigan State University in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Valparaiso University spokeswoman Kristen Knoerzer said the tournament appearance is an exciting time for all Valparaiso community members, who have been pumped up since Ryan Broekhoff’s 3-pointer over Green Bay clinched the Horizon League championship.
Watching the game on one of Harre Union’s four large-screen TVs was Valparaiso resident Susan Syrcle and her husband, who are Crusaders season ticket holders. They wanted to attend the game in person in Auburn, Mich., but were unable to.
“We thought it would be fun to be in this group and join the festivities,” she said.
Valparaiso University student and athlete Grace Shemwell watched the game from her display booth promoting the Social Action Leadership Team, of which she said Crusader player Vashil Fernandez is a member of. She said regardless of the outcome of the game she’s happy for the team.
“You can tell they put it all out there on the court,” she said.
Fans also were treated to an appearance of the astronaut from the Axe Apollo body spray commercials, known for their “nothing beats an astronaut” tagline.
Axe released a commercial that placed the astronaut courtside at the NCAA tournament game in 1998 when Bryce Drew’s famous buzzer-beater shot beat Ole Miss.
A spokesman for an agency representing Axe Apollo said Valparaiso University was the only tournament team featured in a commercial with the astronaut.
The university’s 11 a.m. chapel service was moved to Harre Union to kick off the event. Harre Union Director Larry Mosher said he jokingly dubbed the event “pray and play.”
In addition to the large screens in the union, Mosher said the game was on every TV on campus that had ESPN.