SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Words like "destiny" and "due" were thrown around by Syracuse fans who watched the NCAA championship on jumbo television screens inside the Carrier Dome on Monday night.
After the Orangemen defeated Kansas 81-78 for the first national title in school history, the jubilant crowd of 11,068 could finally shout the words they'd been waiting to deliver: "We're No. 1!"
The fans delighted at the smiles of star freshman Carmelo Anthony, who had 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Orangemen and was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player.
"Can you believe it! Can you believe it! Carmelo couldn't be denied!" yelled Mike Sorvillo, a Syracuse sophomore from Long Island.
"It's been an exciting year. They played like a team of destiny," said Corinne Shutack, a junior from Philadelphia.
A spring snowstorm and subfreezing temperatures couldn't keep fans from gathering under the Carrier Dome's Teflon top. Dressed in orange and blue, they filled three levels of the arena. They began screaming with Syracuse's first basket and never let up.
Outside the arena, celebrations were energetic but orderly. On campus, the city's block-long entertainment district was packed with about 5,000 cheering fans. Some were swinging from trees, leading a chorus of chants. Police in riot gear stood nearby to keep everything under control.
After the game, a stream of fans emptied from the Carrier Dome, heading off to the center of campus and again chanting "We're No. 1!" Car horns could be heard honking everywhere while students emptied out of dorms and houses, adding to the moving mass of people.
Syracuse University spokesman Kevin Morrow said the school will host a tribute for the team Thursday night in the dome.
Keuka College students Dave Bove and Joe Petrosino and a dozen friends drove nearly 90 minutes to watch the game in the dome.
"We knew it would be a historic night, so we wanted to be with a lot of people," Bove said.
John McGivney of Fulton, N.Y., brought his four teenage sons Monday night. McGivney and his oldest son saw the Orangemen win the East region a week earlier in Albany.
"I was here in 1996 to watch Syracuse. I went home pretty depressed," McGivney said of that year's loss to Kentucky in the title game. "This is a much better feeling."
The Associated Press News Service
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