DAYTONA BEACH — She doesn't set the records or get the accolades that some of her teammates do, and her name won't be at the top of a scouting report, but, whenever this season officially ends for the Bethune-Cookman women's basketball team, senior Lyndsey Edwards will be missed more than you might know.
Just ask head coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis.
"I don't want to say this negatively, but she's always been our garbage girl, and I mean that in the most endearing way I can," said Blair-Lewis. "Anything we asked her to do, she'd play her role, and never mind it. She's been our defensive specialist. She started ever since her freshman year because Taylor (Houston) went down with a torn ACL, and she's just grown up in this program. She's so passionate about this program, and I'm so happy to have been able to coach her. You're not going to find a more amazing person to walk this Earth."
Despite losing to Hampton in last week's MEAC semifinal, Edwards and the Wildcats earned a WNIT bid on Monday, and will face Georgia Tech in Thursday's opening round. Edward's is one of just two outgoing seniors this season, with the other being guard Emily Williams.
While Williams will be back next season as a graduate assistant, Edwards plans on moving to Atlanta this summer for an internship at an accounting firm. Atlanta also could be the site of her final collegiate basketball game should the Wildcats lose on Thursday.
"Wow, that's weird, I haven't even thought about it like that until now," Edwards laughed. "I've had a lot of fun; there's been a lot of growth since my freshman year, not just for me but for the program. Where it's come from to where it is now, our mindset as contenders, winning regular-season titles the last three years, it's been really special."
The 5-foot-11 forward has appeared in nearly every game the past four years, and averaged over three rebounds per game in her final season with 36 blocks — good for second on the team.
Earlier this season, she earned MEAC defensive co-player of the week honors after she grabbed a career-high nine rebounds and blocked two shots in the final two minutes to thwart Maryland Eastern Shore's comeback. Two days later she grabbed six rebounds, blocked four shots and had two steals in a win over North Carolina Central.
Perhaps her finest moment, however, came just last week, when she grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds in the waning seconds to keep the Wildcats alive in the semifinal loss to Hampton.
"For me, I think I've just grown into more of a leader," Edwards said. "I've matured over the years, just become more outspoken."
While the end of her collegiate career is inevitable, Edwards still has time to delay it a bit longer. Should the Wildcats knock off the Yellow Jackets on Thursday, they would advance to the WNIT's second round this weekend.
Of course, taking down Georgia Tech (18-13) will be easier said than done. The Wildcats have never won a postseason game, and will be looking to knock off a Yellow Jackets team that is 13-3 at home this season.
The Wildcats also will be trying to rebound from last week's 61-60 semifinal loss in which they turned it over 15 times in the first half and never recovered.
"It was tough when we met Monday," said Blair-Lewis, who will coach Thursday's game after missing the last two due to the birth of her second child. "Everyone was still very tender, very sensitive, very tearful. We just had to have the conversation about how this isn't what we wanted, but, in life, you don't get what you want, you get what you earn. We didn't earn the right to win that game and go to the (NCAA) tournament.
"We have to keep working and get to the point where, when we get these opportunities, we don't let them go by."
Luckily for Blair-Lewis, Edwards and the Wildcats, that next opportunity will be at 7 p.m. Thursday.
"We need to make the most of this," Edwards said. "We've never had a postseason win at B-CU, so getting that would be really special and it would be a huge step for this program."