Sure, the Gannon University women’s basketball team’s 91-70 victory over Clarion University Feb.13 was yet another blowout – its 36th consecutive regular season victory and propelled the squad to a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Tournament berth for the second straight season.
But this victory was just a little more special than the other 26 they have collected this season.
More than 2,000 fans packed the Hammermill Center for the third annual PinkZone game, a contest where the Knights wore pink jerseys and helped raise money for the Erie chapter of the American Cancer Society – Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.
“It was definitely more meaningful for us to get a win on that day,” said senior Carrie Nolan, a Girard, Pa. native. “We have people that recognize us and support us, and those people were there to support breast cancer, and I feel like we were playing for them and the whole community that day.”
Admission to the game was free of charge, and all the money earned went to the American Cancer Society.In the previous two years, the event raised a combined $25,000 for the American Cancer Society – and although the total figures from this year’s event have not been released, the team and the university set a goal to raise at least $13,000 from the event. Those figures, according to coach Cleve Wright, should be released early next week.
Gannon isn’t alone in its attempt to contribute as much as possible to the American Cancer Society, more than 100 colleges and universities throughout the nation will dawn pink jerseys on the hardwood and do their part to help raise money for breast cancer awareness, all of the games are sponsored by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
According to NCAA.org, the WBC PinkZone games are a unified effort for WBC coaches to assist in raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond.
That’s something that senior guard Tiffany Crocker said that has taken place since this event took shape three years ago.
“There are people inside and outside of the program that put so much time and energy into this one event,” she said. “The fact that we get to recognize breast cancer survivors as well, overall it’s just a great event. It means a lot, too. People are directly or indirectly affected by breast cancer, so I think this event really means a lot to people.
This was more than a basketball game. This was an event to get people to understand that the fight against breast cancer is an uphill battle.
“It was a great game,” junior journalism communications major Caitie Ryan said. “But this went beyond basketball; I think everyone in attendance realized that as well. It was a great game and they got another win. But, more importantly, I think everybody in the ‘Mill realized how big of a deal breast cancer is and no matter if you’re a guy or girl, you can help in finding a cure.”
In the lopsided contest, all but three players registered at least two points for the Knights, while senior standout Kristina Freeman led the balanced attack with 22 points, while Noland registered 19, and senior Brittany Tabron added 16 points.
With the win, the Knights moved there record to 26-0 overall, 10-0 in the PSAC West Division, while moving to 2-1 in the PinkZone game since its inception to the Gannon University campus three years ago.
Since the PinkZone game, the ladies reeled off yet another win over rival Edinboro University Feb. 17 and earned the No. 2 ranking in Division II basketball, the highest ranking in school history, and with the No.1 team in the country going down – Franklin Pierce University – the Knights have a good shot at being the No. 1 team in the country next Tuesday when the latest polls are released.
But for those 40 minutes on Feb.13, the game itself took a backseat and the event and the chance to raise breast cancer awareness rose above and beyond a game.
“We have the event itself, and that’s obviously more important than basketball,” Crocker said. “And it means a lot to us.”
Get the inside scoop on everything Gannon Basketball at gannonsports.com, or check out our spotlight on senior standout player Kristina Freeman.