- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 26, 2006

The hundreds of George Mason University fans who yesterday packed into Clyde’s restaurant to watch their team pull off an improbable upset down the street at the Verizon Center had no time-honored fight song to celebrate the victory.

They just chanted, “Mason, Mason, Mason,” as time expired in their 86-84 overtime victory against the University of Connecticut, sending the Patriots to the NCAA Final Four playoffs for the first time.

The cheers were so loud at the Seventh Street Northwest restaurant that they drowned out six giant TV speakers.

Within minutes, they were greeted by some of the 22,000 fans who rushed out of the arena and into the nearby bars and restaurants to celebrate.

Many wearing green-and-yellow face paint, wigs and school sweatshirts, students pumped their fists in the air and strutted to the rhythmic sound of street musicians banging on plastic buckets.

Just like Friday night when the school beat Wichita State University, many fans quickly filled the Coyote Ugly Dance Bar and Saloon on Sixth Street Northwest, which greeted them with a sign that declared: “Your Home for the March to the Championship.”

Among those inside was Grace Willis, 23, of Woodbridge. She had been a cheerleader at George Mason until graduating in 2004 and was proudly wearing a college T-shirt.

Kimberly McKenzie, a George Mason psychology student, attended most of the team’s home games on the Fairfax campus and had a precious ticket to see the 11-seeded Patriots upset the top-seeded Huskies.

Miss McKenzie said her enthusiasm grew last weekend when the team upset the defending national champion, the University of North Carolina.

At Clyde’s, Steve Yates had come from Frederick, Md., to watch the game and have something to eat with two George Mason graduates.

“Absolutely,” he said when asked whether he was pulling for the Patriots.

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