After losing 70-54 in Pittsburgh on Monday night, the ride home for the Niagara University women's basketball team had the potential to feel long.
The drive from Pittsburgh back to Niagara Falls, New York should have taken approximately three hours and forty-five minutes.
Little did they know just how long this trip would take.
Heading into Tuesday night, the players, coaches and family members who came along for the trip — including two children under the age of four — were preparing to spend a second night on their bus, stranded in a snowstorm on the New York State Thruway about two miles west of the Lackawanna toll booths.
"We played at Pitt, got out around 10 (p.m.)," said assistant coach Kyle Hejmowski. "It was a pretty smooth trip, only a little wind. We were approaching Western New York and saw some signs about closure, tried to get off but there was a tractor trailer jack-knifed over the exit. We came up to the tolls at Lackawanna, came to a stop, and we've been like this since 2 a.m."
And that's where the bus stayed until sunrise. And then lunch time. Then sundown. Not that there was a lot to see, being caught in the middle of the lake effect storm.
"When you look outside, the drifts are up to our bus driver's waist when he goes out to clear the exhaust pipe," said Niagara head coach Kendra Faustin by phone Tuesday evening. "Just now, I can look out the window and see five house lights, probably, that I could not see for the last 20 hours. I didn't even know what around us looks like. It was really, really blowing."
The players, though tired, were making the most of their situation. Among their activities were taking selfies, which were spread online through social media. By late afternoon, they caught the entire nation's attention, with media outlets including NBC News and ESPN showing some of those pictures.
"They made signs out of pizza boxes with grease stains. We're watching movies, and they're making up raps and songs," said Faustin. "They're a fun group. They were making videos, commercials they call them. They're doing a great job.
"The later and later it gets, I think everyone gets a little bit nervous about spending another night out here."
The youngsters on the bus were Faustin's own sons, ages 3 and 1 1/2. How were they holding up through the ordeal?
"We're fine through tonight," said Faustin Tuesday evening. "But I think tomorrow when (they're) a little hungry and you don't have anything that you can give him, it can get a little ugly."
The lack of food was among the concerns. With those post-game pizzas long gone, players were getting water by melting snow brought in from outside.
That was at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Later in the evening, WKBW TV reported that New York State Police were working to clear out the eastbound lanes of the Thruway to get vehicles off the roadway.
The Niagara County Sheriff's department also arrived with supplies.
After almost 30 hours the team was rescued by New York State Police in the early hours of Wednesday morning, all the while Tweeting updates on their progress.
We are safe at toll plaza. Making our way to police station and then to campus. pic.twitter.com/cd7iWoWClm— Kendra Faustin (@kfaustin) November 19, 2014
Next up for the team is another road game. This time, however, it will be in nearby Amherst, New York against the University at Buffalo.
"I will be looking forward to only getting into a bus for a half an hour," said Faustin.