There were plenty of cheers and heart-felt tears.
But, Senior Day will be remembered most for the records that were set and the spotlight it put on the most accomplished senior class ever for the Drury Lady Panthers.
The light shone brightest Saturday on Hailey Diestelkamp, who scored a record 53 points, and Daejah Bernard, who tied the team record with 11 assists.
And, oh yeah, Drury set a team scoring record in a 118-70 victory over Rockhurst.
There were plenty of other records — a second consecutive perfect regular season at 29-0 and a fourth consecutive championship in the Great Lakes Valley Conference at 20-0.
Drury’s third senior, Brooke Stanfield, started the offensive onslaught with a field goal in the opening moments and totaled 13 points, six assists and five rebounds.
“That’s what happens when you have fun,” said Coach Molly Miller. “It was an emotional day. I thought they handled it well.”
Miller said the team’s intention wasn’t to run up the score, but Diestelkamp had earned the right to have a big scoring game. Paige Robinson added 18 points and Azia Lynch 11. Both are juniors.
Drury forced 31 turnovers, which included five steals from Bernard.
The seniors were introduced along with family members in a ceremony before the 2,154 in attendance. “I wanted to play hard for the crowd and go out with a bang,” Diestelkamp said. “My shot was kind of falling and that gives me confidence.”
Diestelkamp hit 21-of-27 field goals, including 2-of-3 in 3-point shots. The reigning NCAA Division II player of the year also grabbed seven rebounds and made four assists.
She scored 29 in the first half as the Lady Panthers built a 68-28 lead.
“We’ve got to keep pushing and building,” she said.
Drury has held the No. 1 national ranking all season, but Ashland — No. 2 and 28-0 — has crept higher in recent weeks. They both are in the Midwest Region. “That gives us motivation,” Diestelkamp said. “I think that’s what we had today.”
The Lady Panthers open play at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the conference tournament with a game against the eighth-place qualifier at Edwardsville, Ill.