More than just basketball: Irish honor breast cancer survivors with "Pink Zone" game

Published: Feb. 12, 2019 at 12:48 AM EST
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The Notre Dame women's basketball team bounced back Sunday, blowing out #24 Florida State 97-70 behind 27 points from Arike Ogunbowale, and 26 from Jess Shepard.

The game though was about a whole lot more than just basketball.

It was Notre Dame's annual "Pink Zone" game, meant to honor breast cancer survivors. The team traded in their usual blue, gold, and green colors in favor of special pink unis, and even women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw wore hot pink high heels to support the cause.

Fans throughout Purcell Pavilion were also donned in pink, and survivors were brought onto the court at halftime, escorted by the Notre Dame football team and cheerleaders.

It was important for the Irish to get the win, but also important for them to play for something bigger than basketball, and to fight a disease that has affected some of their own families as well.

"My mom actually was a breast cancer survivor and I lost both of my grandma's to cancer," Ogunbowale said. "So it was definitely an important game and we definitely wanted to honor everybody that was affected by it and their families."

"We started with a prayer before the game, and you start to realize that you're playing for something and there's something more important than the game that's going on today," McGraw said. "Just to think about all the women that have fought through this disease - my mom's a breast cancer survivor, so it's always kind of an emotional day. It's a special day, I love seeing all the pink, I love seeing all the strong women coming out and filling the arena."

In other women's basketball news, Ogunbowale, Shepard, Brianna Turner, Marina Mabrey, and Jackie Young - the entire starting lineup - was named to the Naismith Trophy Midseason Team. Five players is a record for Notre Dame and the most of any school in the country.

The news wasn't all positive though. Monday, the latest AP poll came out, and Notre Dame dropped from #4 to #6 due to their loss to Miami on Thursday.