OGDEN -- The atmosphere at the Dee Events Center was everything Weber State could ask for -- 10,583 rowdy fans roaring for the home team.
And though the Wildcats wanted more from this season, they made their run in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament memorable, taking advantage of the opportunity to set school and Big Sky Conference records for most wins in a single season, among others.
Then the 'Cats extended their postseason as long as it could possibly go, all the way into April, right down to the final fractions of a second of their CIT championship game against East Carolina.
That's when Pirates guard Akeem Richmond, who had made just one other shot in the contest, found nothing but net on a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to take the CIT title away from Weber State with a 77-74 victory for the visitors.
Like the ECU faculty and student research teams who recovered a cannon from Blackbeard's boat, the Queen Anne's Revenge, off the coast of North Carolina last October, the Pirates found the treasure both teams had been hunting, a CollegeInsider.com Tournament trophy.
Weber State (30-7) won three games at home in the CIT, building attendance and excitement each time before going on the road last Saturday to beat Northern Iowa to earn the right to host the title game, which was shown nationally on CBS Sports.
"It was fun. We enjoy playing basketball. After the Montana loss, we were hurt, but I feel like this (CIT run) showed us what kind of people we are. We bounced back from that, got on a little roll and just enjoyed basketball. That's what we've done the last five games," senior guard Scott Bamforth said. "We can kind of hang our hat on that and say we bounced back."
Students, alumni and fans lined up to buy tickets to make Tuesday's game against East Carolina (23-12) the best-attended in several seasons.
Even former Weber State star Damian Lillard took a break from his NBA schedule with the Portland Trail Blazers to watch from the front row, cheering on teammates he was playing with last year.
For Bamforth, the hardest part of the loss was seeing the crowd quieted by Richmond's shot, which was reviewed by officials before being pronounced good.
"That's what's most disappointing," he said. "We had so many people come out and support us. A lot of people had a hand in preparing for this game. They did a great job, and everybody showed up. That's what's most disappointing; you want to win it for us, but you want to win it for the people supporting us, and we didn't do that.
"It hurts, but we'll get over it. They'll move on next year, everybody will be better than they were this year, and we'll be fine."