'Play4Kay' Night More Than Just A Game

Brett Friedlander

NC State's 10th-ranked women's basketball team will play an important game against ACC rival Duke on Monday at Reynolds Coliseum

It's important in the context of staying in contention for at least a share of the regular season conference title and rebuilding momentum heading into the postseason. 

But there's more to it than that.

Monday's game will be the Wolfpack's annual "Play4Kay" game, an event celebrating the life of its late former coach Kay Yow and all others that have battled cancer.

Yow died in 2009 after a courageous battle against the disease.

All donations collected and a portion of all ticket sales at Monday's game, which will be televised nationally as part of ESPN2's Big Monday, will go to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Last year, State donated more then $200,000 to the organization named in Yow's honor .

While none of the Wolfpack's current players are old enough to have more than a cursory knowledge of Yow's legacy at their school, the former coach's influence is never far from their minds.

"Being at NC State, it's really hard not to feel the effect of Kay Yow," senior guard Aislinn Konig said in a video posted on GoPack.com. "Everyday you come in here and you're on this floor and har name is right there. Then you walk out of the gym and go to class and you walk by a statue of her that's lit up even through the night."

Besides the game, one of the highlights of the evening will be the survivor reception and halftime celebration. All cancer survivors in attendance are invited to register for the event and the on-court recognition.

It's an emotional time for both the fans and the players, who will be wearing pink on their uniforms rather than the traditional red.

"My mom is a cancer survivor, so this game means a lot to me," said senior forward Erika Cassell, who is an intern with the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. "I'm pretty excited about it. I'm a senior, so I've been doing this fof four years and every year this game is the most near and dear to my heart."

As for the game, the Wolfpack (23-3, 12-3 ACC) can tie a program record for the most conference wins in a season by beating the Blue Devils.

State broke a two-game losing streak with a dramatic come-from-behind win at Miami on Thursday and are looking to stay just one game behind Louisville in the league standings with three games remaining in the regular season.

Currently sits in a three-way tie for third place in the conference with three games remaining in its regular season while Duke (16-10, 10-5) is tied for third place in the ACC standings.