After cancer treatment Syracuse’s Mangakahia cleared by NCAA

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — After missing last season for breast cancer treatment, Syracuse point guard Tiana Mangakahia has been granted an NCAA eligibility extension and is back with the Orange for her final year.

“I was just really happy,” the 25-year-old Australian said Friday on a Zoom call. “I’m super excited.”

Mangakahia was diagnosed in June 2019 and went through eight rounds of chemotherapy and two operations. The waiver allows her to return to the court this fall for the first time since March 2019.

Mangakahia put her WNBA ambitions on hold in April 2019 and chose to return to Syracuse for her final year of eligibility. Two months later, she discovered a lump that was diagnosed as invasive ductal carcinoma. After undergoing treatment, she was forced to watch the 2019-20 season from the bench because she was not cleared for competition.

It was a big loss for a team that finished 16-15. In two seasons with the Orange, Mangakahia was the fastest player in program history to score 1,000 career points and set a school record with 591 assists, in only 65 games. She’s a two-time, All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team selection.

“Any fears, any worries that I had have disappeared,” coach Quentin Hillsman said. “I’m super excited for the season. So far, so good. We’re healthy. Everyone’s playing well.”

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