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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 4

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 4 12 BY STACY CLARDIE T here always was one left. So, still, nearly two hours after Purdue's seniors played their final game in Mackey Arena Feb. 25, they still were on the court. Back on the court. After spurring the Boilermakers to an 84-60 victory over Minnesota, they were showered with praise, rain- ing down from the rafters, nearly every single one of the 14,804 fans still around to hear their farewellspeeches. Then, Vincent Edwards, Isaac Haas, Dakota Mathias and P.J. Thompson went inside the locker room to get showered and ready to go home. But they came back out to the court. They went out to see their families one more time, sure. But that wasn't all beckoning them. Fans lingered. They screamed names, hoping to gain attention. They reached out mini basketballs, hoping for signa- tures. They held out arms, hoping the player would fill the void, willingly accepting a photo request. One after another after another. It was the kind of reception reserved for that oth- er popular senior class, that Beatles-type postgame that awaited E'Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel and Ja'Juan Johnson. That group, they stayed and stayed and stayed, after nearly every home game, honoring every request. And, on senior night, with the fans staying, so did this current crop of fans' heroes. In the end, it was the 7-foot-2 Haas slowly lumbering up an aisle in Mackey, on his way out, after posing for a picture with a college-aged female and signing one more picture for a middle-school-aged boy. The digital clock above the tunnel flashed "7:52." The game ended at 5:56 p.m. But how could they not leave slowly, soaking in every moment? Or at least trying to soak everything in. In shootaround, they already were reminding each other every time there was a "last time." Then, all the autographs had been signed, all the pic- tures had likely been posted on social media, all the con- gratulations had been said. Purdue's senior class has been a transformative one, and maybe nothing showcased that more than a special, exhaustive postgame environment. "I don't think any of us have really soaked it all in yet that we're not coming back here after (the final home game), as far as playing another game in Mackey," Ed- wards said in the postgame press conference, before re- turning to the court for the final time. "I guess it will hit when we all walk the stage here in May and really realize once we have to go our separate ways, that it's over." But not fully being able to categorize the big-picture moment doesn't mean the game wasn't scattered with smaller, meaningful ones. Celebrating The Seniors Class that changed culture says goodbye

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