Cobb County

Kennesaw State falls to 3-seed Xavier in inaugural NCAA Tournament appearance

GREENSBORO, N.C. — “KSU! KSU,” the crowd chanted. It might have been, but KSU student Jaylynn Holford and her classmates say it’s still all good.

“We love our school! Go Owls!”

The Kennesaw State Owls inaugural appearance in the NCAA Tournament was thwarted after the Xavier Musketeers defeated the Owls 72-67 in a nail-biter.

Guard Chris Youngblood fouled out in the waning seconds of the game after scoring 14 points.

The Owls led by as much as 13 with more than ten minutes remaining, but 14-0 run and a near six-minute scoring drought allowed the Musketeers to chip away at the lead after timely shots and miscues by the Owls.

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In their first appearance in the Big Dance, KSU came every so close to winning.

“All of a sudden we’re thrust into the spotlight. You get the notoriety. You feel like the spot is on you for once,” class of ‘23 student Kevin Nguyen said.

More than 700 students, teachers, and staff watched the game on the big screen in the arena where the Owls play their home games. 

Crystal Caldwell has worked here for 10 years.

“We’re the hidden gem of Georgia,” Caldwell said. Lauren Cerny is both an employee and a class of 2016 graduate. “It’s been an all-around great experience. Go Owls,” Cerny said.

KSU went (26-8, 15-3 in conference) secured a berth by winning the Atlantic Sun by defeating Liberty in the conference title game.

The program in its first season went 1-28 under KSU coach Amir Abdur-Rahim, 5-19 in his second season and 13-18 in his third season.

Everyone in the crowd agreed the Owls sent a message. KSU is officially on the college basketball map.

“You can see how much support the basketball team has. Everybody came out even though it’s not a home game,” Ty-Tiana Williams said.

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