Seniors bid Hilton farewell at least for a little while

Jeremy Gustafson

Of all the minutes they played in Hilton Coliseum, the final two may sting the most on senior night.

Baylor outscored Iowa State 12-0 in the final 2:01 of the game Wednesday night, ruining what had looked like a storybook ending for the Cyclone seniors.

“We’ve all been thinking about [senior night] the past week,” senior Tracy Gahan said. “We can’t believe it’s already here. I think the . adrenaline was pumping.”

Gahan, along with fellow senior Angie Welle, gave the Hilton faithful a final glimpse of the greatness they have displayed during the past four years.

Welle scored a career-high 36 points and added 11 rebounds, the 49th double-double of her career, a fitting end to the regular season.

Gahan, who played perhaps as hard as anyone on the court, did it all. She scored 15 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, had two steals and a block.

“It’s extremely disappointing to come out like this,” she said.

But Gahan and Welle, along with seniors Kelly Cizek and Ashley Homeyer, were given one instruction by their head coach, Bill Fennelly.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” he said after the game.

The four have a lot to smile about, too.

Since coming to Iowa State they have experienced one Big 12 Conference championship, two Big 12 Tournament titles, three NCAA Tournament appearances, one Elite Eight showing and two Sweet Sixteen appearances.

“I told the kids before the game `This game was about the seniors,'” Fennelly said. “It’s hard to lose those four.”

Welle holds a special place in Fennelly’s heart. She will go down as the best player in Cyclone history, owning the school record with 2,042 points and 1,143 rebounds. She also has records for blocked shots, and both free throws made and attempted.

Her last game at Hilton was something to be remembered.

“That was an amazing effort,” Fennelly said. “The only thing that would have made it better obviously is if we would have won. It’s a pretty storybook thing to have your greatest game on senior night. Not many people do that.”

But it’s not over yet.

“The good thing is – the season isn’t over,” Fennelly said. “We’re 21-7, we played a great schedule in a great league. We’re not apologizing for anything.”

It’s on to Kansas City for the Big 12 tournament, to play Nebraska in a first-round game Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.

“As soon as this game ended our regular season was done,” Gahan said. “Kansas City is a whole different story. We can’t go in there thinking about this game.”

After that is the NCAA Tournament where, if No. 10 Iowa State stays in the top 16, it will host the first two rounds and is already scheduled to host the Midwest Regional.

It’s not just the seniors who want to get back home. Junior guard Lindsey Wilson said she was “very disappointed” for “not giving them a last victory.”

She too is hungry to play in Hilton again.

“Hopefully this won’t be our last game at home,” she said, “so we can go out in style.”