Senior night is a special time for any athlete. It’s the last chance to play in front of the home crowd and in the comforts of their home arena.
Playing in front of your parents for the final time isn’t bad either, especially if those parents were coming from across the Atlantic.
In her final game at the Al McGuire Center, senior guard Lauren Thomas-Johnson had one of the best games in her career, scoring 17 points, 10 of which came in overtime, in front of her parents who flew in from England to watch their daughter’s last home game.
“It means a lot,” Thomas-Johnson said. “Especially with my parents surprising me. I didn’t know they were coming.
“These two years have been very special as a player and as a person. I’ve met amazing people, I’ve met friends I’m going to be friends with for life. It meant a lot.”
Senior Jannelle Harris made her final appearance in front of the home crowd in what was an up-and-down four years at Marquette.
Coming into yesterday’s game Harris and Thomas-Johnson were having quiet seasons averaging 4.6 and 8.4 points a game, respectively, but were looking to make a final, lasting imprint in their last game at the Al. They sure did.
Adding to Thomas-Johnson’s 17 points in 33 minutes was Harris, who finished the game with six points and four rebounds in 28 minutes.
“It means so much because of what they have given to the program,” coach Terri Mitchell said. “Lauren ended as a senior should end a game. By a steal, by driving, by hitting big free throws. That’s what seniors do. She was very senior-like, and I was very proud of how she played.”
The Golden Eagles’ 69-63 overtime victory against Cincinnati would not have been possible without the senior from Manchester, England. Thomas-Johnson stole the show in overtime scoring 10 of Marquette’s 12 points and securing the victory for Marquette.
“It’s so amazing,” junior Paige Fiedorowicz said. “She’s one of my best friends and my roommate, so seeing her do good on her senior night, her last home game, was great. It’s really nice seeing how happy she was with her family here and everything.”
Thomas-Johnson was much more aggressive in the overtime period, driving to the bucket possession after possession. After a 3-point miss from NBA range, Thomas-Johnson banked a shot in off a drive with three minutes to go to score her first points since the six-minute mark.
“I just saw the open lane, and I thought, I’ve got to go. I’ve got to do it now for my team,” Thomas-Johnson said. “I’ve got to make this basket.”
The shot gave her a new-found confidence to attack the interior leading to two more lay-ins and and two trips to the line.
“I was settling for a lot of 3-point shots in regulation,” she said. “I kept shooting threes. Then I was just like, take it to the basket, get on the foul line.”
She took it to the foul line, and now gets to take the win home with her for the rest of her life.