NCAA Round of 32 vs Nevada

University of Cincinnati senior Gary Clark (11) shows his disappointment after a heartbreaking loss to Nevada in the NCAA Men's basketball Tournament game at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, Sunday March 18, 2018. (Shae Combs | Photo Editor)

I don’t even know what to say. All I know is that being a Cincinnati fan is pretty damn hard.

I was making plans for Atlanta. The Bearcats were making the Sweet 16; it looked like a sure thing. Until it wasn’t.

22 points. There is no way Nevada comes back from that with less than 11 minutes left on the clock, right? Wrong.

When Cane Broome’s shot was blocked and the buzzer sounded, the past four years went rushing through my mind.

I have spent the past four years covering this team for The News Record. I have witnessed incredible moments and excruciating losses. I can remember how excited I was when Troy Caupain hit that buzzer-beater in the 2015 NCAA tournament game against Purdue. But I can also remember the devastation I felt watching UConn’s Jalen Adams hit that shot from half court during the four-overtime American Athletic Conference tournament game.

I never thought there would be something more heartbreaking than that game. If you roll the tape, you can even see me in the highlight. I was crushed. As were the other fans. As, I’m sure, were the players.

None of us knew what was to come.

Watching the Nevada players run towards the side of the court I was sitting on; it didn’t feel real. But it was. This stacked Cincinnati team, the best team of the Mick Cronin era, was done. They weren’t going to Final Four, Elite Eight or even the Sweet 16.

They were the exact kind of team I hoped to cover while at UC. They had a loaded roster. They didn’t fulfill their potential, though, and that’s the worst part.

Then I remembered Gary Clark. We have all watched him grow up these past four years, but it felt like he and I had grown up together. We both came to UC in 2014 and we will both be leaving in 2018. The fact that he will never wear a Cincinnati jersey again is a tough pill to swallow.

I can’t imagine what he is going through, what the entire team is going through. Seeing their faces in the locker room after the game was a punch to the stomach. They worked their asses off all year and they were extremely successful. They won an AAC regular season championship, an AAC tournament championship, and they were good enough to earn a two-seed in the NCAA tournament. They have a lot to brag about, but their ultimate goal was not met.

As I saw Jacob Evans and Kyle Washington walk into their press conference with their arms draped over each other’s shoulders, I saw the love they had for each other. They were truly there for each other during one of the toughest moments of their lives, and Cincinnatians must do the same for each other.

Heartbreak after heartbreak; it feels as if Cincy is the new Cleveland, but sticking together, remaining hopeful for the future and taking pride in the city we live in will help us get through the bad moments.

So here is to the future of Cincinnati sports. May it not be as heartbreaking as it is right now and may there be many championships ahead of us.

Oh, and to all my other heartbroken UC fans, may Xavier’s loss help this burn a little less.