Syracuse women's basketball player Tiana Mangakahia is back on the court after defeating her toughest opponent. Mangakahia returned Syracuse basketball this week for the first time since being diagnosed with Stage 2 Grade 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, a form of breast cancer, in the summer of 2019.
Mangakahia led all scorers in Syracuse's season-opening 50-39 win over Stony Brook with 16 points. The fifth-year senior was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2019. In November 2019, Syracuse announced that Mangakahia was cancer-free after undergoing a successful double mastectomy. The Australia-native also went through several chemotherapy treatments in an effort to beat cancer and return to the game she loved.
Against Stony Brook, 615 days after her last game, Mangakahia -- Syracuse's all-time assists leader -- took the court once again.
"I was very emotional, and I couldn't believe this day was here," Mangakahia told Syracuse.com after the game.
Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said following Sunday's game that the program is 'grateful' Mangakahia is healthy.
"I'm just so grateful that she has the opportunity to play again," Hillsman said following Sunday's game. "Some people lose their life, and she's here and playing for us. I'm very thankful and grateful."
Mangakahia was one of the top players in the program prior to being forced to take a season off. During the 2018-19 campaign, she put together averages of 16.9 points and 8.4 assists per contest and became the fastest player in program history to score 1,000 points.
With her returning to the court, Mangakahia has been named to the preseason Top 30 watch list for the John R. Wooden Award, which is the highest individual honor in college basketball.