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Freshman Katie Yohn sizes up her defender during Bradley's 63-55 win over Drake in the annual Pink Zone game.
Twenty-three times on Sunday the entire crowd at Lorene Ramsey Gymnasium held their breath, hoping for a Bradley 3-pointer to fall. Six times they got their wish.
Sunday marked the Bradley women’s basketball team’s seventh annual “Pink Zone” game and the Braves celebrated with a 63-55 win and nearly $7,000 in donations for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.
As part of Bradley coach Paula Buscher’s Coaches’ Challenge, a total of $883 was pledged for each BU 3-pointer, along with additional donations collected during the game. Buscher pledged $25 for each 3, costing her $150 for the six made 3-pointers.
“I am more than glad to pay up,” Buscher said. “I really feel like I’m blessed as a coach to have the opportunity to do something like this for breast cancer awareness.”
Bradley’s sports marketing department called for a “Pink Out” for Sunday’s game and that was exactly what they got. But the festivities didn’t stop with fans wearing pink T-shirts. The game also featured special pink Bradley uniforms and pink referee’s whistles.
When senior Renee Frericks fell out of bounds early in the second half, she even came back into the game wearing pink tape on her knee.
Frericks has become somewhat of a Pink Zone legend in the past two years, hitting five 3-pointers in last year’s double-overtime win over Drake and three in Sunday’s victory.
“You’re looking for (3-pointers) a little more in this game,” she admitted with a laugh. “This is something that’s as simple as playing a basketball game and just shooting 3-pointers to make some money, but it helps so many people. It’s great to be a part of.”
The game also featured a special halftime tribute to all the breast cancer survivors in attendance, including Bradley President Joanne K. Glasser. All survivors made their way to center court to collect special pink basketballs and received a standing ovation from a full crowd.
Breast cancer survivors in attendance were recognized at halftime with special pink basketballs and a standing ovation.
Coach Buscher said the size of the crowd was a direct result of the marketing efforts of Assistant Director of Athletics/External Affairs Mary Lou Janssen, who said the response to the game has been getting larger and larger every year the event has been held.
“We started having a Pink Zone reception the week of the game to kick things off and I think that has helped spark the interest for the game,” Janssen said. “It’s always great to get a Bradley win, but we’re all winners when we raise money for breast cancer.”
Janssen also said donations are still being accepted throughout the week and that more pledges have been made through the end of the season. She said one person has pledged $50 for each 3-ball made in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Charles, Mo., and any postseason play that the Braves may take part in.
Sunday’s win improved Bradley to 6-1 all time in Pink Zone games and Athletics Director Michael Cross, who was witnessing his first “Pink Out,” said he couldn’t wait until next year’s event.
“It was a great atmosphere and a tremendous organizational effort on the part of Coach Buscher, the team and President Glasser to unify everyone around a really important cause,” he said. “Raising $7,000 is a tremendous credit to everyone for how much they pitched in to support this cause.”