MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia women’s basketball earned another massive win when it toppled No. 21 Iowa State on Saturday.
The win was huge for WVU, a team trying to fight its way up the Big 12 standings and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. It was an even bigger victory off the court, however, as the Mountaineers continued their long tradition of using their sport to create a positive impact off the court.
WVU’s upset of Iowa State coincided with its annual Pink Game for breast cancer awareness. The team donned alternate uniforms with pink lettering, and many of the team’s players laced up special pink shoes. Even the Cyclones were in on it, wearing pink shoes and headbands.
The Mountaineer faithful showed their support in the stands as well. The first 500 fans of the 2,587 in attendance received rally towels and wristbands, but most of the people in the crowd brought their own pink gear.
“I thought the crowd was great,” said WVU coach Dawn Plitzuweit on Saturday. “We had a lot of pink in the crowd tonight and that was a lot of fun.”
Plitzuweit’s efforts extended beyond the game as she worked to educate her players about the importance of breast cancer awareness. The coach admitted that she put her team through an “intense” week of practice before facing Iowa State before bringing in a group of breast cancer survivors to share their stories.
That might be an unconventional aspect of pregame preparation for a basketball game, but Plitzuweit was impressed by her team’s attention.
“They were so engaged and so respectful and then they stuck around to introduce themselves because we have some ladies that are interested in the medical field so it was a great networking opportunity that was presented,” Plitzuweit said. “I think our young ladies were so special yesterday in hearing the message and doing a great job of being really, really engaged.”
This is just another instance of the WVU women’s basketball team utilizing its court to make a positive impact, a tradition that predates Plitzuweit, but one she has worked to maintain.
In November, WVU resumed its tradition of Education Day, when students from area schools take a field trip to the WVU Coliseum to root on the Mountaineers with their classmates. In January, Plitzuweit welcomed a host of WVU women’s hoops alumnae to connect the players with the program’s history. A few games later, the team celebrated five decades of women’s basketball on campus as part of National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
“It’s important for us as coaches to mentor our young ladies and to grow them in ways, certainly, on the basketball court which is what people see, but also off the court to the best of our ability,” Plitzuweit said.