- Graham Hays, espnW.com
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At some point in the remaining weeks of the regular season, Iowa sophomore Samantha Logic is going to pass Cara Consuegra and break the school's single-season assists record. Her pace to get there slowed considerably Sunday, but as a result, she might have given the Hawkeyes the helping hand they needed to find their way into the NCAA tournament instead of the WNIT.
And she brought a day about much bigger things to a fitting conclusion. A player making plays to win a basketball game.
There was a great deal of basketball played and great deal of pink worn across the country for a good cause Sunday. From seeing and hearing the late Kay Yow's words to scenes of cancer survivors dancing on the court during the game between Louisville and DePaul to the camera finding Purdue director of operations Terry Kix, currently undergoing treatment for stomach cancer, hard at work on the bench, that cause is why we all do this each year.
In the midst of that, the biggest story of the day unfolded in Durham, N.C., where Tricia Liston's career performance on the court for Duke against Wake Forest was overshadowed by the sight of All-American Chelsea Gray off the court, one leg in a brace and propped up on chairs. Duke beat Wake Forest, but we learned Gray will miss at least the rest of the regular season with a dislocated knee.
But the result of the day went to Iowa with its 72-52 win at No. 18 Purdue, its first win in West Lafayette in 15 years. Behind Logic's career-high 26 points, Iowa ended a five-game losing streak that threatened to unravel its season.
Ranked in the top 10 nationally in assists, Logic is the kind of point guard who it's worth the price of admission to watch not shoot. She passes with the same commitment to the act that Jason Kidd or Ticha Penicheiro displayed in their primes. The way Andres Iniesta passes still on the soccer field. Creatively, instinctively and even artistically.
It comes with a price, more than four turnovers per game when the needle is thread a little too tight. It's still worth it from a player who also averages better than six rebounds and two steals per game.
But the angles Purdue's zone provided time and again Sunday weren't to open teammates but an open basket. Logic had attempted double-digit shots in a game six times before Sunday, barely greater than her number of double-digit assist games. She took 13 shots against the Boilermakers and hit 10 of them, many at the end of drives to the basket that made a 20-point win out of what had been a competitive game well into the second half.
"Kind of asked Sam to look for the basket a little bit more, and she obviously did that today," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.
Bluder also said after the game she lost track of how many games in a row the losing streak encompassed. It wasn't going to get any easier with a trip to red-hot Nebraska looming after the game at Purdue. Iowa entered Sunday's game with a good enough RPI (No. 31) and strength of schedule to think about turning around its season, but it had to finish a game with more points than its opponent for any of the other numbers to matter come March.
Logic certainly had help, most noticeably from Theairra Taylor's 15 points and 11 rebounds, as well as a surprisingly submissive Purdue defense. But Logic led the way by taking what was given instead of doing the distributing.
Yow would have been appreciative of all the support Sunday for the cause of cancer awareness. She would have felt some compassion for any rival player who saw a season potentially ended, but especially one as special as Gray.
But she would have enjoyed the way Logic stepped up in a season-saving game, which is what February basketball is all about.
At least every day but one in February.
Play 4Kay is personal for Tennessee's Warlick
Holly Warlick's cause has gotten even more personal.
In 2007, Warlick and Nikki Caldwell started "Champions For A Cause," a charity dedicated to fighting breast cancer. The former Tennessee players and assistant coaches use motorcycle events -- their inaugural ride took them from Knoxville to San Francisco -- to raise money for their nonprofit foundation.
Warlick, who lost her grandmother to breast cancer, revealed Wednesday during Tennessee's media availability that her older sister, Marion Ferrill, underwent a double mastectomy shortly after being diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2012.
Ferrill was on hand Sunday during Tennessee's "Live Pink, Bleed Orange" event to raise money to fight cancer and honor cancer survivors ("Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts also attended the game with coach emeritus Pat Summitt). Champions For A Cause donated $15,000 to three separate organizations Sunday (one of the donations was to the Kay Yow Foundation), and Warlick presented Ferrill with a pink game ball.
For more on Warlick and Ferrill, Tennessee posted the video below on YouTube:
Fifth annual Frenzies
ESPN's annual Play 4Kay event (née Think Pink and February Frenzy) always falls during the entertainment awards season. Five years ago, we got all clever and started handing out our own fictional awards to honor the highlights of Sunday's action. Without further ado …
Best picture: Like Iowa finally solving Purdue in West Lafayette, Kansas figured out how to beat Oklahoma in Lawrence, Kan. The Jayhawks scored their first home win over the Sooners since 1999, and the first since Bonnie Henrickson took over the team. Mechelle Voepel was on hand as Kansas upset the No. 22 Sooners.
Best costume design: Part of what makes Play 4Kay so fun each year is simply seeing pink incorporated into jerseys and each school's color schemes (some combinations work better than others). Muffet McGraw is known for her sideline style, and from the waist up, you couldn't tell Sunday was different than any other game: The Notre Dame coach sported a black top, black and white scarf wrapped just right around her neck, and understated earrings with just a touch of pink on them.
But McGraw also ditched her usual game-day garb (skirt) for hot-pink pants that trumped anything else we saw Sunday -- even Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie going barefoot with pink toenails.
Best actress in a leading role: With Chelsea Gray sidelined with a severe knee injury and Wake Forest threatening to become the first ACC team in five years to win at Cameron Indoor Stadium during conference play, Duke junior Tricia Liston poured in a career-high 29 points. Graham Hays further explains why Liston, espnW's national player of the week, was the top player of the day.
Best actress in a supporting role: Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins wasn't the only one breaking records Sunday. Kansas point guard Angel Goodrich dished 10 assists to become the Jayhawks' all-time assists leader. she has 687 career assists.
Best score: We might be taking this one too literally, but Diggins' pass to freshman Jewell Loyd for an alley-oop barely three minutes into the game was one of Sunday's top highlight-reel moments. -- Melanie Jackson
Let the bidding begin
Big Monday's showdown between Baylor and UConn won't be the only battle between the Lady Bears and Huskies. Each team's fans -- and women's college basketball fans across the country -- will get the chance to impact which coach outbids the other.
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey wore the necklace pictured to the right at Baylor's Play 4Kay game Saturday. The necklace will be pitted against a pink tie that UConn coach Geno Auriemma will wear during Monday's game in an auction to benefit the Kay Yow Foundation. More details will be shared during Big Monday's UConn-Baylor game (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET).
-- Melanie Jackson
12dBonnie D. Ford