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February 1, 2014

Oakland's Zookeeper: Neshannock High graduate leading the cheers for Pitt’s zany student section.

(Continued)

NEW CASTLE — ROCKING THE PETE

Shoup said more than 200 students spent the night at the Petersen Events Center and were a part of a record crowd of 12,944.

“I personally don’t have to wait,” she said. “I already have my seat, but I still did it, because I knew it’d be worth it. The experience is 100 percent worth it. I keep saying this ‘You’ll never have that experience of sleeping in the Petersen Events Center again.’ No one gets to say they did that.”

Shoup and Co. in the Oakland Zoo lived up to their reputation against Duke.

“It was absolutely insane,” she said. “It wasn’t the loudest that I’ve ever seen, but everyone was so excited about it being Duke. We couldn’t believe they were in the Petersen Events Center. Definitely getting ACC teams like UNC and Duke into The Pete is just an unreal experience.

“There were people running up and down doing warm-ups mocking them. There were some of great signs. I saw some creative signs that I’ve never seen before. Of course, they got to have fun mocking Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski). He’s an amazing coach and we’ve never seen him before. It was so exciting.”

ONCE IN A LIFETIME EVENT?

Shoup and Co. are expecting another huge turnout for the Panthers’ Feb. 12 battle with former Big East and current ACC rival Syracuse at the Petersen Events Center.

“It’s funny,” Shoup said. “We all kept saying ‘We won’t get to do this again, but, Syracuse is in three weeks, so we’ll be doing it again.’ It’ll be bigger. They’ll probably be a top-five team and The Zoo is 9-0 against top-five teams.”

The Orange handed the Panthers their first ACC loss on Jan. 18 at the Carrier Dome.

“We have a history with them,” Shoup said. “I honestly think the rivalry we’ve established with Syracuse will make that a crazier game.”

(Email: C_Corbin@ncnewsonline.com).

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