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The 2023-2024 season marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of the NC State Women’s Basketball program. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and look back at the women’s basketball program over the past 50 years.

In the early years of the university, sports on campus reflected the cultural norms of the time – women had few, if any, opportunities to play organized sports. This all changed in 1973 when Kathy Bounds, Deb Webb and Genie Jordan organized an intramural basketball club for women. The year after, an official women’s basketball team was created at NC State.

As women’s basketball gained more popularity, they began to televise a few of the games, but only the ones that would attract a certain amount of viewers. The first televised women’s basketball game in North Carolina was NC State versus UNC Chapel Hill in 1976, which we did in fact win, might I add. Many other universities began introducing women’s basketball programs around this time, ultimately leading to women’s basketball finally receiving recognition as a league sport by the ACC in 1978.

In the first year that women’s basketball was active in the ACC, NC State took the title of regular-season champions. That same year, the women’s team made it all the way to the finals of the ACC Tournament, but unfortunately lost to the University of Maryland. The next year, the exact same thing happened, and we placed second again. But in 1980, our women’s team beat out Maryland and took home the ACC women’s basketball tournament title. Since the creation of the Women’s ACC Tournament, NC State has continuously shown their presence. Out of all 46 tournaments, NC State has placed second in 16 of them and won seven.

We can’t talk about these early wins for the program, or even the program at all, without mentioning Kay Yow. A pillar of women’s basketball at NC State, and for the US as well, Yow was the first ever full-time women’s college coach in North Carolina. She was hired to coach women’s volleyball, softball and basketball. She coached at NC State for 34 years, and coached for the Olympic Team from 1974-1988.

In 2006, Yow started the tradition of dedicating one of the home games to raise awareness for women’s cancers. This soon became an annual tradition and was aptly named “Play4Kay.” Unfortunately, a few years later, Yow passed away after battling cancer herself. NC State still continues the tradition of “Play4Kay,” and now, more than ever, NC State fans show up at the games to support the ongoing battle against women’s cancers.

Over the past 50 years, the NC State Women’s Basketball program has racked up over 1,000 wins, 42 winning seasons, 28 NCAA Tournament Appearances, seven ACC Tournament Titles and six ACC regular season crowns. NC State Women’s Basketball has made their mark on both the NCAA and ACC scenes. The program has also produced two ACC Players of the Year, five All-Americans, 91 All-ACC Selections, 37 1,000+ Point Scorers, 18 WNBA Draft Picks and three Hall of Famers. Even in its anniversary season, the women’s basketball team has continued to set records, foster talent, and reach new heights.

But numbers aren’t the only thing that matters. There is so much more to basketball than just the statistics. Aside from building a reputation for greatness in college athletics, the women’s basketball program has built a reputation as a close knit and supportive community. Any spectator can see the team’s chemistry radiating off of them. They have an ongoing series of videos that they play during timeouts that showcase how close the team is. From the Chubby Bunny Challenge to the Telephone game, these videos show the girls playing tons of different games with each other to bond. This has been a tradition for years now, allowing the players to get to know each other better, as well as letting the fans get to know them better too.

In recent years, the team continues to prove why Reynolds Coliseum is sold out every single game, even if it is just a “small gym.” Elissa Cunane, one of the best women’s basketball players to ever play for NC State, was selected as a part of multiple All-American teams, and received an incredibly long list of awards. She became the first ever NC State women’s basketball player to have a spot on an Associated Press All-American Team. During Cunane’s time at NC State from 2018 to 2022, the women’s basketball team won the ACC tournament three years in a row, and also took home the regular-season ACC title in 2022, along with appearing in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.

Coach Wes Moore couldn’t ask for a better 50th season. Currently ranked sixth in the NCAA and third in the ACC, the girls are taking names. From top scorer Aziaha James, to the star freshman Zoe Brooks, our team is packed with amazingly talented players.

At the time of writing this, the women’s team has put up 1839 points, 1057 rebounds and 344 assists over the course of this season. This averages out to about 77 points, 44 rebounds and 14 assists per game. Not to mention their 21-3 record in the NCAA and 9-3 record for the ACC, only losing at Virginia Tech (currently ranked number one in the ACC), at Miami (currently ranked number nine in the ACC), and at home against Virginia Tech.

There are two remaining home games left in the season for the women’s team: Feb. 29 against Syracuse (currently ranked number two in the ACC) and March 3 against Wake Forest (currently ranked number 15 in the ACC). Although the regular tickets may be sold out, if you are a student, you can line up outside Reynolds Coliseum before the game to get in for free!

The women’s team has shown that they are a force to be reckoned with. Every game has an electric environment that you won’t be able to get anywhere else. While you’re at the game, you can take a look around at all the awards and titles the women’s team has received over the years, all on display in Reynolds Coliseum. There are multiple sections highlighting different players and coaches. So come on out and support the women’s team before they head out for the ACC Tournament in Greensboro on March 6-10!