Lions honor Lyde on senior night

Senior guard Janae Lyde dribbles past a defender against Mississippi College Feb. 11 in Flowers Hall. The women’s basketball team presented Lyde a framed jersey in her honor on senior night Feb. 20.

by Sports Editor Mike Ezekiel

A 68-64 loss to Christian Brothers was not what UNA’s women’s basketball team had in mind for its senior night Feb. 20, but a positive vibe took over Flowers Hall.

UNA head coach Missy Tiber presented veteran point guard Janae Lyde a framed jersey, as Lyde’s family escorted her to center court at the conclusion of her final home game. The crowd gave Lyde a standing ovation.

“It hit me pretty hard (last week) that I only had a couple of weeks left in my basketball career,” Lyde said. “It hurts when you’ve been playing basketball for so long. I don’t regret any moment of (my career), and it’s been an amazing ride here at North Alabama.”

Despite having two seniors listed on the roster, the women’s basketball team decided to only honor one.

As for the team’s other senior, center Alexus Patterson, Tiber said she hopes to return Patterson to the roster next season as a graduate student. The newcomer from Southern Illinois could still have eligibility, but will need to check with the NCAA and UNA compliance director Todd Vardaman.

“I think we have a 50-50 shot,” Tiber said. “She had one year (at SIU) where she played very limited games. She played five games, and we’re going to try to get that year back.

“We’re going to appeal to the NCAA and ask them if we can get another year of eligibility back for her. It’s going to take several months (to find out).”

Tiber said the team cannot officially file a waiver until the subjective player is finished with that year of eligibility.

“Whenever our last game is over, that next day I’ll be in (Vardaman’s) office,” Tiber said. “We’ll be starting the process with all the paperwork. She’s that important to us. She’s made a difference on the team in the short time she’s been here.”

The team has yet to express how they will honor Patterson if she is not able to play another year, as they are confident she will return next season.

Lyde closes out her career on the road Feb. 27 against rival Alabama-Huntsville in Spragins Hall. Lyde said her ultimate goal is to lay a foundation for the Lions and their future teams.

“I hope that I’ve left something for the team to look back on,” she said. “I’m happy at this point in time we are getting better. In the next two years, this program will be right back where it was.”

Tiber said the team will miss Lyde’s influence next season.

“She’s made herself better each year she’s been here,” Tiber said. “Every year, she’s grown as a player and into her leadership role. This season, I think that’s come into fruition, and she’s embraced that role. She’s the leader of this team.”

With hopes to return next season, Patterson said she plans on working toward going to graduate school while playing in the 2016-17 year.

“I will always take any opportunity to play basketball, and if it’s helping me with school, I’ll take that too,” Patterson said. “(If the NCAA deems me eligible) I’m 100 percent coming back next season.”