SAN DIEGO — On Veterans Day, the Gonzaga and Michigan State basketball teams faced off in the ‘Armed Forces Classic’ aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln at Naval Air Station North Island.
The No. 2 ranked Bulldogs had to stage a late comeback in the second half to beat the Spartans 64-63.
The game was a nationally televised event honoring our veterans.
It’s the first time in over a decade a college basketball game has been played aboard a working ship in San Diego.
The scene surrounding the match up isn't what you'd typically see at a college basketball game, from the military-inspired uniforms to the outdoor court.
In addition to the players and fans, dozens of active military members volunteered to work at the game, including Chief Hospital Corpsman Diana Jucutan.
“We have different volunteers from different squadrons and as soon as you hear ESPN game aboard the Abe Lincoln, everyone is like, hey I wanna do it! I wanna volunteer,” said Jucutan.
Jucutan says being there isn't just exciting, it makes her proud.
“At the end of the day, I'm happy to showcase the Abraham Lincoln.”
Veterans in the crowd were happy to be there as well, including Stan Kolussa, who served in the Navy.
“Enjoying it! What a great day!,” said Kolussa.
Kolussa volunteers on the USS Midway, which hosted a similar event in 2012.
But the first time a game like this was held on a working military ship was back in 2011, when Michigan State took on North Carolina on Veterans Day aboard the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego.
The game drew more than 8,000 fans including the Obamas.
And while the tradition continued the following year, playing basketball aboard a ship proved to be challenging due to technical difficulties and wind gusts that made playing harder than usual.
This year, it’s back, and it's a fitting tribute for fans and that our military are excited about.