One last time at home

Jeremy Gustafson

The perfect scenario for women’s basketball senior night would include a huge win in which all the seniors step onto the court, play well and receive a final ovation. As the team leaves triumphant, the seniors return to address the crowd, which stands in appreciation.

“That’s why there are movies and TV shows,” ISU head coach Bill Fennelly said.

In the real world, No. 10 Iowa State (9-6 Big 12, 21-6 overall) hosts Baylor (11-4, 23-4), the eighth-ranked team in the country and second place team in the Big 12.

“Obviously you want it to be a great night, something [the seniors] will remember the rest of their life,” Fennelly said. “I don’t think Baylor is going to be real accommodating and help us in that regard.”

The Lady Bears bring in a high-powered offense, led by two All-Big 12 candidates, Sheila Lambert and Danielle Crockrom. In fact, if statistics mean anything, the game should be full of highlights.

Four of the top five scorers in the Big 12 are playing in the game. Cyclone Lindsey Wilson leads the league at 19.8 points per game. Teammate Angie Welle isn’t far behind with 19.7 points and Lambert scores 19.6. Crockrom is fifth in the league at 17.6 points a game.

Welle and Crockrom are also atop the league in rebounding. Welle leads the Big 12 with 10.9 boards per game. Crockrom snags 9.8 a game.

Much like the individuals, the teams are close in scoring. Iowa State is second in team scoring in the Big 12 with 77.9 points per game, and Baylor is fourth with 77.3. Both are led by their guards, who have become two of the top players in the conference.

But this rivalry isn’t new to them. Both Lambert and Wilson played against each other in high school in Seattle.

“During the summers, ever since we’ve been out of high school, we meet and play on the outdoor courts in Seattle,” Wilson said, adding that they first played each other when Lambert was in eighth grade and Wilson in seventh.

“I think we played once or twice [in high school] then I transferred to different school,” Wilson said.

Lambert, who was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year last season after transferring to Baylor from Grayson Community College in Denison, Texas, has one up on Wilson in college as the Bears upset the Cyclones in Waco, Texas, last season, 79-74.

Wilson has different plans for this season.

While the Cyclones played poorly in a win over Kansas on Saturday, Wilson hopes for a performance similar to when Iowa State beat then No. 2 Oklahoma, 82-66.

“That’s what I’m planning on,” Wilson said. “It’s not gonna be a blowout. We need to come out with intensity and play with a lot of emotion and really have some fun.”

After all that is what senior night is all about, a final chance for those who lose their eligibility to play in front of their fans.

Fennelly just hopes his players won’t get caught up in the emotion of the moment.

“No matter what we say or what we do, I think [senior night] is gonna be in their minds and in their hearts,” Fennelly said. “We do the ceremony after the game to try and make it as normal as possible. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.”

It could be real bad if the Cyclones lose, especially when Welle gives her speech.

“It’s gonna be a lot easier to give a speech if we win,” she said. “I get kind of crabby when we lose.”

For the other seniors, Ashley Homeyer, Kelly Cizek and Tracy Gahan, the night will hold special moments, plus a few nerves when the players give their speeches after the game.

“I was talking to my mom about it,” said Cizek about writing a speech for the 14,000 Hilton faithful. “She said `It’s not 14,000 people – it’s four people. The fans, the coaches, your players and your parents, that’s all there is.’ I’m like `Yeah, right.'”

Cizek said she did get her speech done late Monday night and that it would be hard to talk if the team lost.

Plus there is the extra motivation knowing the Cyclones haven’t lost their final home game since a 62-54 defeat at the hands of Colorado on Feb. 18, 1996.

“The only way to do it is to win,” Homeyer said. “I think it would be tough to go through the ceremonies after a loss.”

But this may not be the last game at Hilton Coliseum. If the Cyclones finish ranked in the top 16, they will host the first two games of the NCAA Tournament.

“There’s no guarantee that we’re gonna host,” Gahan said. “All we can do is go out there and play our best and take care of business. Hopefully everything else will happen.”