The Michigan State Spartans (16-5, 6-4 Big Ten) crushed the Purdue Boilermakers (15-9, 6-5 Big Ten) in a pink-filled Breslin Center on Sunday afternoon with a score of 74-66.
The women's basketball team hosted its annual pink game in support of breast cancer awareness. Players traded out their normal green and white uniforms for pink striped jerseys and sported pink shoes and socks. Head coach Suzy Merchant proudly wore a pink ribbon in commemorating breast cancer survivors and fighters.
"These games are always so much bigger than basketball games," Merchant said. "Like I said, I think the only regret that I personally have is that I would love to see the half time and what happens there because I think it's pretty powerful when you can have that opportunity but obviously I'm unable to do that. Someone in our Spartan family, our secretary Margaret, has been battling breast cancer for the past few years and she's doing well and obviously she's winning the fight. It just hits a little closer to home when it's someone in your Spartan family. It was kind of neat how the players wrote her name on their shoes today and played for her. It shows a lot about them and it makes you smile."
During halftime, the lights were dimmed and the announcer told the fans to turn on their flashlights if they knew someone, treated someone, or were currently fighting against cancer. The song “Stand by You” by Rachel Platten played on the sound system, uniting a stadium filled with strangers.
This game also held more meaning for sophomore forward Sidney Cooks.
“For me personally, I had lost a close family friend to (breast cancer) some years ago," Cooks said. "My grandmother had it and beat it and then we have (Margaret) that works right in our front office, and a lot of us actually had no idea. Once we heard, it hurt our hearts and we just really want to go out on the floor and play for her. ... We love this game every year, it’s one of my favorites because I know everyone’s going to come out. There’s a good half time thing that we don’t get to experience, but after I always see my parents talking about it.”
With the total attendance being 7,450, many fans are there to support not only the basketball team, but the fighters and survivors with breast cancer as well.
“A lot of us didn’t know about our head lady in the office, (Margaret). She has breast cancer, or is battling breast cancer, so coach told us that before the game and you know it really touched us,” stated redshirt junior guard Shay Colley. “We kind of went out there and did this for her. Even when the game was close, (the crowd) rallied up, made a lot of noise and helped us get back into the game to come up for the win.”
The Spartans will travel to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes on Feb. 7 at 9 p.m.