When Wichita State sophomore Michelle Price found her mother, a breast cancer survivor, in the crowd after turning in an inspired performance of 16 points and 12 rebounds, it was an emotional moment.
It was tangible proof of what the Wichita State women's basketball team had played for in its 69-52 victory over Missouri State in the annual WBCA Pink Zone game.
The Shockers donned pink uniforms, which were auctioned off later, for the cause of raising awareness and funding for women's breast cancer.
"This was a very special game to me because my mom has been cancer-free for about a year now," Price said. "I wanted to do my best to show her how much I care about (her)."
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Price provided the spark for the Shockers early. She had 10 points and eight rebounds by halftime, a half won by WSU 32-24.
"This time a year ago, I wasn't able to come because I had just had my surgery," said Vee Price, Michelle's mother. "This was so special. I can't say anything else, it was just special."
It was also a crucial game for the Shockers to avoid the play-in game in the Missouri Valley tournament. WSU improved to 6-8 in the league, which ties them with Drake for sixth place.
"I was really proud of how these players put it together and how they put it together for 40 minutes," WSU coach Jody Adams said.
Particularly impressive was how Wichita State responded when the Bears made their runs in the second half. MSU closed to within 56-52 with five minutes left in the game.
The Shockers closed the game on a 13-0 run.
"It's what I didn't see," Adams said in explaining the late-game success. "The blank looks, the deer-in-the-headlight look when we hit the panic button. I believe these guys are understanding what their defense can do for them."
Missouri State finished the game shooting a 28.1 percent shooting.
A Haleigh Lankster three-pointer provided the dagger with 3:19 left. She took a jab step, and after scoring most of her game-high 18 points on drives, the defense took the bait.
"The whole game I wanted to be aggressive and get to the rim," Lankster said. "They started playing me for penetration after that. So after I jabbed at her, I was open and I just shot the three."
But the team agreed Price set the tone for the game.
"It was amazing to see her react like that and play like I know she can," teammate Jazimen Gordon said.
It was nice for Price to help the Shockers to an important league win. But this game was all about the person to whom she dedicated her game.
"It was just really touching," Price said. "I was really relieved to know she was here. Just her being here, personally, it meant a lot to me. This was just a really important game for me."
MISSOURI STATE (17-9, 8-6): Shorter 5-14 5-7 15, Mays 0-4 1-2 1, Garrison 7-18 4-4 18, Malone 2-9 4-4 8, Buer 1-3 0-1 2, Edie 0-1 0-0 0, Roberts 0-3 0-0 0, Roberson 3-12 0-1 8, Soldner 0- 0-1 0, Boshe 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-64 14-20 52.
WICHITA STATE (12-13, 6-8): Turner 1-4 3-5 5, Price 5-9 6-6 16, Diamond 3-11 6-8 12, Lankster 7-9 3-6 18, Dawkins 0-6 5-6 5, Boyd 1-3 0-0 2, Sanchez 2-4 0-0 4, Robben 0-0 0-0 0, Gordon 3-8 1-1 7. Totals 22-54 24-32 69.
Halftime—Wichita State 32, Missouri State 24. Three-point shooting—MSU 2-13 (Roberson 2-10, Malone 0-1, Garrison 0-2), WSU 1-6 (Lankster 1-2, Turner 0-1, Diamond 0-1, Sanchez 0-2). Rebounds—MSU 43 (Shorter 11), WSU 45 (Price 12). Assists—MSU 7 (Garrison, Buer 2), WSU 10 (Diamond 4). Fouls—MSU 22, WSU 15. A—2,196.