COLUMBIA — It wasn't the usual night for the Stephens basketball team.
"I think a lot of the times we just come out and play basketball. But when we are playing for something else, there is a lot more behind it," senior Cara Leis said.
The Stars' Pink Out game Monday night was special in several ways. The team came together to join the efforts of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association to raise awareness of breast cancer. Leis returned to the starting lineup after being sidelined since Jan. 15 with a broken left wrist, and the Stars ended a 19-game losing streak with a 61-59 victory over Harris-Stowe.
"There was a good atmosphere on campus today. People were talking about the Pink Out game," said Stephens coach Bill Bixon who wore a pink dress shirt on the bench during the game. "They were excited to come out and watch them play, and that’s huge for a young team like this to be playing in front of a nice crowd."
Stephens handed out complimentary pink “Never Give Up” bandannas, necklaces with pink ribbons and free pink cotton candy. Bixon provided his players with shoelaces for their sneakers with pink ribbons printed on them and the team wore hot pink T-shirts during warmups.
“I was super excited for the Pink Out game,” Leis said. “Of course it’s the color pink so that’s always fun. It’s something different."
Leis led Stephens with 14 points, and Alexis Wood scored 13, while Megan Sheffield pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds. The Stars improved to 4-22.
"We played this team last week and we lost by four," Bixon said. "I think there was an underlying confidence that we felt like we knew we needed to come out here and beat this team.”
“We were all excited to play tonight for the Pink Out game," freshman guard Kelsea Whitten said. "And to top it off, we got the win. We could feel it coming."
Since it was created in 2007, the WBCA's Pink Zone has raised almost $3.3 million towards cancer research and awareness.
Stephens plays next against Hannibal-LaGrange at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Silverthorne Arena.