The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

DePaul defeats Providence in Play4Kay cancer awareness night

DePaul+guard+Katlyn+Gilbert+%28No.+0%29+gets+a+screen+from+forward+Brynn+Masikewich+%28No.+5%29+in+a+game+against+Providence+Feb.+7%2C+2024%2C+at+Wintrust+Arena.+The+Blue+Demon+uniforms+featured+pink+accents+to+raise+awareness+for+the+Kay+Yow+Cancer+Fund.
Max Clement
DePaul guard Katlyn Gilbert (No. 0) gets a screen from forward Brynn Masikewich (No. 5) in a game against Providence Feb. 7, 2024, at Wintrust Arena. The Blue Demon uniforms featured pink accents to raise awareness for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

DePaul secured an 84-72 victory against Providence at Wintrust Arena Feb. 7 in the Play4Kay game. It was the team’s first game back in Chicago after a week-long road trip to Butler and Georgetown. 

Guard Anaya Peoples led DePaul with 28 points and seven rebounds. It was her 11th game this season with 20 or more points. Forward Jorie Allen added 22 points, along with forward Brynn Masikewich’s career-high 12 points. Providence had four players scoring double digits, led by guard Brynn Farrell’s 18 points. 

The game meant more than the win. It was a night honoring those fighting cancer and remembering those who passed from the disease.

DePaul partnered with the Kay Yow Cancer Fund to participate in the Play4Kay Pledge Playoff fundraiser, which recognizes the fight against all cancers affecting women. Various basketball teams across the country are working with the organization through February to raise money for cancer research and assist those battling cancer. Those wishing to participate in the fundraiser can make a pledge to the Kay Yow fund for every DePaul assist this month or make a one-time donation. 

Sandra Kay Yow dedicated over three decades of her life as North Carolina’s head women’s basketball coach, from 1975 to 2009. She passed away Jan. 24, 2009, at age 66 after a 22-year battle with breast cancer. She founded the Kay Yow Cancer Fund before she died.

“(Yow) battled breast cancer on and off for 22 of those years that she coached at N.C. State, her cancer battle was very public,” Kelsey Harris, director of the cancer fund said. “During her time that she was battling and coaching at the same time, she actually founded the fund in 2007. She was able to create the funds before she passed away, and created a legacy out of that.” 

The fundraiser has a $50,000 goal between all schools, currently sitting shy of $10,000 a week into February. 

“It’s supporting life-saving cancer research,” Harrison said about the mission. “It’s uniting everyone in the fight against all cancers affecting women through Play4Kay.” 

Participating schools each choose a stat line that fans can pledge toward for the month. DePaul chose assists, which they currently rank fourth in the Big East with 17.16 assists per game. 

“Fundraise around your game, donating it back to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund to help with cancer research to help with underserved communities, and then lastly, to celebrate cancer survivors,” Harris said. “Those are kind of the three main components of a Play4Kay game.” 

Yow was a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coach, as well as the president and founding member of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). She also led the U.S. women’s team to a gold medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. She went 737-344 in her 38-year coaching career. 

Head coach Doug Bruno met Yow in the late 1980s. 

“She’s just a great person, a great coach and (she) had this ability to be as competitive as anybody,” Bruno said. “She was such a gentle person. To know her, was to love her.” 

Yow’s words resonated with Bruno in a way that has stuck with him to this day. He recalls a speech she gave at a Chicago Sun-Times all-area banquet in the early 1990s. 

“She gave a brilliant speech about how you can’t always control your circumstances in life, but you can always control your attitude about your circumstances,” Bruno said.

Head coach Doug Bruno looks on in DePaul’s game against Providence Feb. 7, 2024, at Wintrust Arena. DePaul’s bench and coaches wore shirts reading “hope, strength, courage” to celebrate the life and legacy of Kay Yow.

At the game, players and coaching staff wore shirts saying “hope, strength, courage,” and their uniforms had pink accents.

A quick 11-for-15 start from the field, collecting offensive rebounds and forcing turnovers helped the Blue Demons defeat the Friars. 

DePaul forced 18 turnovers, scored an additional 13 points from offensive rebounds, and outscored Providence in the paint 36-30. 

“You’re not going to make every shot you shoot, but coach always says, ‘Keep shooting … If you don’t shoot, how do you know if it’s going to go in or not?’” Masikewich said. “So just keep having that confidence, and we all believe in each other.” 

Masikewich had a big night in her return to the court after dealing with a hand injury, which was still taped up. Her last game played was Jan. 13 against Marquette. 

This was Masikewich’s second start of the season, in addition to her career-high scoring night. 

“It feels the exact same if I come off the bench, I feel prepared and ready to go,” Masikewich said about starting. “My teammates always give me confidence.”

Bruno said he started Masikewich due to the shooting and rebounding struggle DePaul has been having, and to go up against Providence’s Olivia Olsen’s strong interior skills. Both Masikewich and Olsen are 6-foot-3. 

Providence closed in on DePaul’s lead in the second quarter, coming within just a point in the sixth minute, but team chemistry helped the Blue Demons maintain the edge and come out on top.

“Just being able to look each other in the eye and know they [teammates] have your back no matter what; I can make a mistake, they can make a mistake, but we’re onto the next play,” Peoples said. “We’re in this together, and we got a great coach who we’re following behind, it’s all about the chemistry. We’re so close this year. We are like sisters, really.” 

Providence beat DePaul 72-65 in the first conference meeting of the season Jan. 3 in Rhode Island. DePaul has never lost to Providence on home court in program history.

“The way the players have stayed the course through tough and difficult times, it’s just been impressive,” Bruno said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but I’m just proud of the players staying together. … It was a very good win for our team and our program, and hopefully, we can get things moving consistently in the right direction.”

DePaul guard Katlyn Gilbert defends a Providence ball handler in their match Feb. 7, 2024, at Wintrust Arena. Gilbert, the Big East steals leader, finished with 2 on Wednesday.

DePaul moves to 12-13 (4-8 Big East) and ranks ninth in the conference. The Blue Demons’ next game is at Creighton Feb. 10 before they return back to Chicago to face Marquette Feb. 13. 

Bigger than basketball, the cancer awareness night was inspiring and emotional for the players. 

“This means a lot to me, honestly. I lost my grandmother on my dad’s side from cancer,” Peoples said, choking up as Bruno patted her back for comfort. “My grandmother on my mom’s side is battling, and she also beat it. This is personally like a really big game … I just want to honor them.” 

Masikewich also backed up Peoples on the importance of the cause. 

“My grandparents have struggled with cancer, and they’re surviving with cancer,” Masikewich said. 

Masikewich also has a cousin who was recently diagnosed. 

“Playing the game is great, and we get to do that, but they are fighting for their lives,” Masikewich said. “That’s the bigger picture.”

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