Losing season doesn't ruin Lowery's Centre career

February 22, 2004|JILL ERWIN

Virginia Lowery's hopes for the postseason are gone, but the senior forward from Tennessee said her four years at Centre College have been filled with all she could have hoped for.

Centre lost 76-56 to No. 10 DePauw Friday, knocking the Colonels out of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament. Centre is 5-19 overall and 2-10 in the conference going into today's season finale with Rose-Hulman at Alumni Gymnasium.

Lowery is one of only two players graduating this year who were around for Centre's trip to the Division III Sweet Sixteen three seasons ago. Now, the Colonels won't even play in the conference tournament.

She terms the end of her collegiate career as "bittersweet," glad to see the ugliness of this season gone, but dreading the last time she'll play basketball.


"Basketball's been my life ever since I can remember," Lowery said. "A part of me thinks, 'What am I ever going to do with my life now? What am I going to do with all this time on my hands?' But a part of me also is ready for the next stage of life.

"I've enjoyed every minute of it and I wouldn't take any of it back. Basketball has taught me life experiences that you can't learn if you don't play."

This year has been heavy on life experiences and short on wins. The Colonels have been racked by defections, both before and during the season, that have dropped them to eight players in uniform for today's game.

That has made for a far different senior year than Lowery might have hoped for. She and fellow seniors Nessa Timoney and Jacqueline Coleman have had their hands full trying to unite a team fractured by departures.

"If I was to say it's been easy being a senior and having to be a leader on and off the floor and still have to endure your last days playing basketball, I'd be lying to you," Lowery said.

"But I firmly believe there's a reason for everything. I don't understand why the last year I get to play basketball had to be like this by any means, but I think it definitely prepared me for battles in life down the road. There's a reason this is happening, but I just don't know right now."

Defense is her biggest gift

Lowery admits she's never been a big offensive threat, not even when she was in high school. Centre coach Jennifer Ruff said Lowery's defense has always been her biggest gift.

"We've really relied on Virginia since she was a freshman defensively," Ruff said. "They've (DePauw) got some of the best post players in the conference, and I'd put Virginia up against them defensively."

Lowery scored six points, had three rebounds and a blocked shot in 29 minutes against the Tigers Friday. She knows that this afternoon's Senior Day festivities will be emotional, and she said she expects to "bawl like a baby" when she is introduced and walks out with her parents.

That is when she'll flash back to the previous three seasons, remembering all she can, and coming to grips with saying good-bye.

"I came in as a freshman and I had an unbelievable freshman year," Lowery said. "I got to go to the Sweet Sixteen, we won the conference, and I think when I was a freshman I didn't appreciate that as much.

"My freshman year was great, but I think every year has taught me something different. It's sad that this year has had to be like it is, but there's a reason. I just don't know what it is yet."

Centre hung with DePauw through the midpoint of the first half, but an 18-0 run pushed the Tigers to a 19-point lead they wouldn't lose.

Outside of that run, however, Centre played within two points of the No. 10 team for 32 minutes, and Ruff said she was pleased.

"I thought we played probably the hardest we've played all season," the Centre coach said. "It wasn't like we were playing their last people. We were playing the kids that are No. 10 in the country the entire game. Overall, I'm really, really proud of our effort."

Shelly Johnson led Centre with 21 points as the Colonels hit 46 percent of their shots and won the rebounding battle 32-30 behind Liz Braun's eight boards.

DEPAUW (21-3, 12-1) - Tria Yoder 1-8 0-0 3, Mandy Harrison 1-1 0-0 2, Lindsay Houin 4-9 1-1 9, Sarah Zondor 4-13 3-4 12, Amy Argetsinger 5-9 0-0 10, Suzy Doughty 0-2 2-2 2, Caitlin McGonigal 1-2 0-0 2, Jordan Cuddy 5-9 0-0 13, Maisha Cadet-Duval 2-2 2-2 6, Colleen Powers 7-12 1-1 15, Kara Warner 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 31-69 9-10 76.

CENTRE (5-19, 2-11) - Shelly Johnson 7-9 6-6 21, Virginia Lowery 2-3 2-2 6, Liz Braun 1-3 0-0 2, Chelsea Wessel 5-11 0-0 10, Jacqueline Coleman 3-9 6-6 13, Mary Klee 2-6 0-0 4, Nessa Timoney 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 20-44 14-14 56.

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