Five WKU seniors prepare for their final games in Diddle

WKU redshirt senior guard Junior Lomomba (5) jumps up for a shot against MTSU junior guard Edward Simpson (11) during their game on Thursday, February 16. MTSU won the game with a score of 78-52.

Matthew Stewart

The first of the final two home games of WKU’s season will be played in Diddle Arena tonight as the Tops take on North Texas Thursday and Rice on Saturday.

Saturday night will continue a long tradition in college basketball, senior night.

Five seniors will play their last game in Diddle on Saturday night.

Ben Lawson, Anton Waters, Junior Lomomba, Pancake Thomas and Que Johnson will be recognized at 6:40 p.m. before tip-off against the Owls.

Lawson is the only Hilltopper to have spent all four of his college years on the Hill.

Waters follows behind him with two years at WKU after transferring from community college.

“It’s gonna be surreal,” Lawson said. “Being here four years — it’s become my life. It’s probably not going to hit me until after the fact but it’s gonna be a big change for me. I’m gonna miss Diddle. Everyone has been so friendly to me for the whole four years. It’s gonna be a sad day to step away from it.”

The other three seniors on the team this year are all fifth year graduate transfers. Despite spending only one year at WKU, that hasn’t kept them from feeling like a member of the Hilltopper family.

“Just knowing that it’s our last year; we all came here as fifth year graduate guys,” Lomomba said. “We all sacrificed something one way or another to come here. College, you know it’s an experience that you can cherish for the rest of your life, and you gotta make the best out of it.”

This summer, Lomomba and Lawson played in Houston and formed a valuable friendship and relationship between a big man and a point guard that has proved to help throughout the season.

“I played with Ben in Houston throughout the summer,” said Lomomba. “We got the opportunity to know more about each other. That’s another thing that you’re gonna miss, you know with college just the experience of meeting new people, bonding and going through ups and downs.”

Lawson has had some good times in Bowling Green and on campus. He has had many teammates over his time as a Hilltopper and has forged some life-long relationships and friendships.

“I have met so many good people,” Lawson said. “I remember my first day when I met George Fant for the first time, and he took me to Zaxby’s for the first time and he tricked me in to getting the hottest sauce, just memories like that will be with me for the rest of my life.”

Thomas, Johnson and Lomomba have all helped each other transition to a new school for their final year of college basketball.

Waters has come a long way according to Head Coach Rick Stansbury. Coming out of high school, his grades limited him to a community college.

“I think Anton probably has come a long way in his personal life,” Stansbury said. “It started last spring with him. He started doing things the right way off the court and it was amazing how you know the results he had. He had that dirt piled on him six foot deep, he dug it off of him and survived it. He is in position to graduate. We gotta get him through Spanish. If he can get through, Spanish Anton will walk out of here with his degree.”

Waters said he worked hard last summer on his grades and his game on the court. His hard work and drive have moved him in to the starting lineup in his senior season.

“Me coming from a community college, there has been a bunch of traveling,” Waters said. “Never really had a place where I can say I can go home. This is it for me. It is something that you just savor the moment. I gotta play like this is actually my last game. I’m happy. My grades was the reason why I had to go to a community college, and it really didn’t catch up to me until my academic adviser said that you have a chance to graduate on time. I ain’t ever been so focused in my life. I’m still on my grind, just trying to graduate. It’s always something though, you supposed to graduate but now you need Spanish, just another bump in the road that I just gotta go through.”

Waters has come a long way from being a kid in Baltimore to being a starter for the Tops.

“For me it’s just all about the journey and how far I came you know,” Waters said. “I went from just a kid in Baltimore to a kid in Florida, now Bowling Green. I just take one step at a time, being patient and working hard, and it’s gonna get there for me. And now everything is like where I want it. I’m just glad I made it to this point.”

The Toppers might have some motivation, Lawson and Waters mainly, on Saturday night as they realize this is their last home game of their college career.

“It is a celebration,” Lawson said. “We are gonna enjoy it when the moment is there. Hopefully we can pack Diddle and have a great environment for our last game and hopefully send each other off the right way.”

These two games will be a good test for the Tops before they head to the Conference USA tournament in Birmingham next week.

“[We] need to find a way to have a home stand, need to find a way to win these last two home games against a North Texas team that’s got a lot of talent and against a Rice team that’s playing really well,” Stansbury said. “It will be a challenge for us both nights.”

Reporter Matthew Stewart can be reached at 859-797-3140 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @MES_WKU22.