Tiana Mangakahia is back.
Syracuse’s star point guard played for the first time since being diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2019. In her first game action in 615 days, Mangakahia led all scorers with 16 points in the 50-39 season-opening victory over Stony Brook on Long Island. She added seven rebounds, four steals, three assists and a block.
NCAA good news: Mangakahia returns to court
Mangakahia is Syracuse’s all-time assist leader and her first foray back into the box score was an assist to Amaya Finklea-Guity that got the No. 23 Orange on the board. She played a game-high 37 minutes.
🎥: “I just couldn’t believe that this day was here and I was gonna be able to play.”@TianaManga talks about the pregame nerves & grades her performance in her first competitive basketball game since overcoming breast cancer. She led all scorers with 16 points in the win. pic.twitter.com/1MauDo3MLM
— 'Cuse Hoops (@CuseWBB) November 30, 2020
She gave herself an 85 out of 100 grade for her performance, which included five turnovers, 4 of 13 shooting and hitting 1 of 3 3-point attempts.
“I just felt super happy to be on the court,” she said in the postgame video call.
Quentin Hillsman ‘grateful’ Mangakahia is healthy
Mangakahia was set to go head-to-head with Sabrina Ionescu for best point guard in the 2019-20 season after both stars opted not to enter the WNBA draft. She was diagnosed with cancer less than two months after the draft and took the season off to battle it.
In November 2019, she was declared cancer free. The NCAA granted her an extra season of eligibility.
“I’m just so grateful that she has the opportunity to play again,” Hillsman said in his postgame news conference, via Syracuse.com. “Some people lose their life, and she’s here and playing for us. I’m very thankful and grateful.”
Mangakahia said she is getting used to how her body has changed since the time away. Syracuse, which got 14 points and seven rebounds from star recruit Kamilla Cardoso, won an understandably ugly game given the limited offseason team work and lack of true preseason. Syracuse is scheduled to host Lincoln in a home opener Dec. 2.
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