CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The sun rose over Charlotte Douglas Airport not long before the first Gamecock fans came back to town from Phoenix. They say they were glad they made the trip.

"Great experience, best game I've ever been to," said Gamecocks fan Michael Duck.

The long flight took off around 1:30 a.m. Sunday from Phoenix, just a few hours after the Gamecocks' nail-biter of a loss to Gonzaga.

But the die-hard fans were still excited their team made a run all the way to the Final Four.

"Gamecock nation always expects their team to go this far, we expected to win the championship," super-fan Jim Leventis said. "In fact, we were hoping for a North Carolina, South Carolina with the winner getting Carowinds and loser would get South of the Border."

While that bet won't be happening this year, the fun and games aren't over. If you're willing to cheer for the 'other' Carolina.

"All the best to the Tar Heels, that's who we're pulling for now," Leventis said.

That wasn't the last chance for South Carolina fans to cheer on their team for a national championship. The women's team plays tonight in Dallas.