Putting pride on the line

Under the gray sky of her final days as a San Diego State basketball player, Olivia DiCamilli still couldn’t believe it.

“I would have never envisioned my senior night to be like this,” DiCamilli said.

For the first time in her four seasons as an Aztec, senior night will be the season’s last night. The defending WAC Pacific Division champs won’t make the conference tournament, let alone the NCAA tourney.

In her Colorado Springs, Colo., office, Marti Gasser tried to get her Air Force team past the dark cloud of its 0-14 WAC record (5-20 overall.) The Falcons’ 14-game losing streak was punctuated with a 100-39 pasting by Mountain Division leader Utah in AFA’s senior night.

“When you lose that many games in a row, you lose a lot of confidence,” Gasser said. “The only way you can get that confidence back is from within. I can have as much confidence in the world in them, but if they can’t get it within themselves, that’s difficult.

“Neither one of us is playing for anything except for pride, and looking for next year,” Gasser said.

For the Aztecs, though, motivation may be hard to come by after Saturday’s loss at Tulsa, which shut the door on their postseason hopes.

“These next two days I’ll be digging deep for motivation,” SDSU guard Shaneya Harris said. “I had been anticipating working for the WAC Tournament. (Tonight is) not a game we need to get into the tournament. But it’s still a win. And we need a win.”

Harris is the only other senior on the Aztecs’ roster, and she still remembers last year’s senior night festivities.

“Last year was really special because I was losing some teammates and personal friends,” Harris said. “At the time I never envisioned what it’d be like for me.”

In their last meeting Feb. 7, the Aztecs blew past AFA 78-54. If the Falcons want any shot at a win, Gasser said, they need a better all-around performance from leading scorer Elycia Hall.

“She’s a great offensive player, but she’s got to step it up in other areas,” Gasser said. “She’s got to let the offense create some things for her. … Next year she’s got to have more dimensions to her game.”

SDSU coach Barb Smith would rather wrap up this year in a good way.

“I think this is important to the players,” Smith said. “We need to finish on a strong note. I know that this will turn around for our kids.”

But for DiCamilli and Harris, next year doesn’t exist. DiCamilli said SDSU should beat the Falcons, but things will be anticlimactic.

“I have two practices left in my entire career,” she said. “I’ve never been able to say that.”

So what will they do on that first morning they wake up without having to run, or do weights, or watch film?

“I have to wait until that day comes,” Harris said. “I’m not going to want to let go.”

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Putting pride on the line