Carlie Wagner knows senior night will be emotional.
“I already warned Coach Nik, and she’s ready for me,” Wagner said, referring to assistant head coach Nikita Lowry Dawkins. “She’s got tissues ready.”
Wagner and teammates Jessie Edwards and Bryanna Fernstrom will be honored during Tuesday’s Gophers women’s basketball game against Indiana at Williams Arena. Wagner is the only one of the three to play all four years in Minnesota.
Coach Marlene Stollings knows it will be an emotional game for everyone. Even before the Gophers (21-6, 10-4) beat No. 10 Maryland 93-74 Sunday, Stollings said she wasn’t looking forward to Wagner’s last game at Williams Arena.
Stollings and Wagner started their time at the University of Minnesota together, four seasons ago.
“I call her the poster child of our program since her arrival,” Stollings said.
The coach couldn’t recall a single game day or practice where Wagner arrived in the gym and “just didn’t feel like it that day,” Stollings said.
“Never once has that happened,” Stollings said. “And you can’t say that hardly about any player that you’ve ever coached. She brings that enthusiasm every single day, and work ethic.”
The Gophers will host Indiana (15-12, 8-6) to wrap up their four-game homestand with one road game remaining in the regular season.
Wagner enters Tuesday’s game with 2,072 career points, 25 shy of third on the Gophers’ all-time scoring list. She ranks second in team history in field goals attempted (1,990), three-pointers (287) and three-point field goal attempts (823).
Monday, she earned her first career Big Ten player of the week honor, sharing the award with Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell. Wagner averaged 21.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in the victories over then-No. 23 Michigan and Maryland, shooting 45.2 percent from the floor and 9-for-16 from three-point range.
Her name will be cemented in Gophers history next to top players like Rachel Banham and Lindsay Whalen. All three have Minnesota high school roots: Wagner led New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva to a pair of state championships and scored 3,957 points in her preps career.
She has led the way for a Gophers team that is “peaking at the right time,” Stollings said. Wagner consistently puts together an all-around game, which includes shots from beyond the arc. She has hit 81 three-pointers this season, just one behind her career-high mark last season.
“The way it’s been going, I couldn’t have asked for a better ending,” Wagner said. “I’ve had so many great memories here these past four years, and they’re gone in the blink of an eye.”
The Gophers, who moved into a tie for third place with the Maryland upset, have their sights set on getting a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament, followed by what they hope will be a trip to the NCAA tournament. For now, Wagner just wants to enjoy her last game at the Barn.
“I’m going to go out and have a blast with my teammates,” she said. “And let’s go get Indiana.”