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Halftime plea galvanizes Syracuse late rally

During February many basketball teams across the country have a Play for Kay game in support of not only cancers in the world, yet Kay Yow the late coach for NC State. The Wolfpack played with fight, aggression and fire, yet it was the heart of the Orange players who stormed back to avoid being upset by the NC State Wolfpack.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Raleigh, NC – The NC State Wolfpack hosted Syracuse at Holliday Gymnasium on Sunday, February 14th for the sold out, 11th annual Hoops 4 Hope game.

Syracuse took the win, 55-52, and is now 20-6 and 10-3 in the ACC, while NC State dropped to 17-9 and 8-5 in the ACC.

"With this loss and the Louisville loss, you’re talking about two wins that could have been very good on our resume and we didn’t quite finish the job," said NC State Coach Wes Moore.

"As I told our players, they fought their guts out all day long. We did a good job on the boards against a team with some length in size. We did a lot of things right and definitely gave it an unbelievable effort. I’m disappointed in myself; we didn’t get a good look at the end, and that’s on me. I have to put them in a better position."

Hoops 4 Hope started in 2006 by former NC State head coach Kay Yow, when NC State dedicated one home game each year towards raising money for the fight against women’s cancers. Yow was a victim of breast cancer herself, first diagnosed in 1987. She lost her battle in 2009 but only after she formed the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

This inspired a national movement known as Play 4Kay, where over 2,000 games are played, at least, one in each of the 50 states.

"To me, here is a little more meaningful because of Coach Yow and her legacy. She had 34 years at NC State, over 20 years battling breast cancer and just the number of lives she touched while she was here and now she’s continuing to touch lives through her foundation.

"Every year we do this, and it’s special, I hate that we weren’t able to send this crowd home with a W," said Moore.

There was no referencing to Syracuse as "The Orange" in the contest against the Wolfpack. Each teams’ uniforms were a combination of a lighter, breast cancer shade of pink and white.

Not only did the colors of their uniforms show support for the cause, but along each member of the Packs back were words like "inspire" and "fight" instead of the last name.

State’s Dominique Wilson was immediately ready for action as she turned a steal into a layup to get the Wolfpack a quick lead on the board.

Both teams fought hard on the defensive end in the first half, and that showed through their shooting percentages, both teams with less than 27%. The Wolfpack led by six points at the end of the first half, 26-20. Wilson was the leader of the pack with eight points.

Syracuse began the second half with an 11-2 run that led NC State, 33-32. As 1:30 remained in the third, Wilson pulled the Pack ahead, 36-35. State’s Jennifer Mathurin picked up her third foul that allowed Syracuse to gain a one-point lead, 37-36 at the end of the third.

Both teams were tied with 45 as 5:00 remained in the game. Wolfpacker Ashley Williams beat the shot clock with a massive three; Syracuse led by one as 1:38 remained in the game. NC State missed two back-to-back layups and picked up a foul.

Syracuse took the win over the Wolfpack, 55-52, a win that would have touched many Wolfpack hearts.

"I wish I could tell you I told them this big halftime speech, but I asked them who has the heart, who has the courage to take whatever it takes to win the basketball game," said Syracuse Head Coach Quentin Hillsman when speaking on Syracuse’s second-half run.

NC State will be back in action on February 21st as they take on neighborhood rival, UNC Chapel Hill for a Play 4Kay game. Things heat up for Syracuse as the team hosts Florida State on Thursday, February 18th.