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The Return of Syracuse Basketball Star Point Guard, Tiana Mangakahia

Tiana Mangakahia Returns to the Court One Year After Recovering from Breast Cancer.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The only player in Syracuse Women’s Basketball history to record a points-assists-rebounds triple-double is back. Tiana Mangakahia’s stellar career at Syracuse came to an abrupt stop as she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in June 2019. 

Pre-diagnosis, Mangakahia’s ability to run the show as the point guard was one of the best in the nation as she averaged 9.1 assists over two seasons, earning her All-ACC first-team honors. In just her sophomore season, Mangakahia led the nation in assists as she was setting record after record. She is already the all-time leader in assists in school history, has the second-highest scoring game in the history of the Carrier Dome for a Syracuse player, men’s or women’s, as she dropped 44 points against Georgia Tech, and is the fastest in program's history to reach the 1,000 career points mark. She led the program to a number 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament in the 2018-19 season and was recently selected to be on Australia's National Team as a collegiate athlete. 

By junior year, Mangakahia was deemed as the best player on the roster, leading Syracuse in points, assists, and free throw percentage where she is nearly automatic (88%). Mangakahia posted 13 assists v Miami, an ACC tournament record while also pouring in 25 points in the quarterfinals.

What was suppose to be her senior year, never was. Mangakahia was diagnosed with Breast Cancer on June 18, 2019. Soon after the diagnosis, Mangakahia stayed optimistic. “I know this will be tough, but I will get through it. This is just the beginning for me and I will come out stronger,” she said in an interview. 

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Mangakahia made a full recovery and has been back in Syracuse after spending some time with her family in Brisbane, Australia, where she is originally from. She has her eyes set on the prize. In an interview in April Mangkahaia said winning a national championship is very possible as the core of the team is returning. As far as individual feat goes, Magakahia wants to fulfill her true potential. “I want to be the best point guard in the country, and I do think that’s possible,” said Mangakahia.

The last time Mangakahia was fully healthy, Syracuse Women went 25-9 (11-5 in conference play) which was good enough for fifth-best in the ACC. The team finished the season ranked as No.12 team in the nation. Without Mangakahia having participated in a single game last spring due to her diagnosis, the team went 16-15 (9-9) and lost to Louisville in the ACC tournament before the season came to a halt because of the corona-virus.

Mangakahia has been focused on her training ever since she was cleared for basketball activities, whether that’s overseas in Brisbane, or in Syracuse. Her game is ready to take a leap, which is daunting for her opponents considering she has been a finalist for the Nancy Leiberman award, handed out to the best point guard in the country. With a solid supporting cast around her, the 5’ 6” point guard can lead the Syracuse Women to the national title as the leader of the group before she declares for the WNBA Draft next year.

Louisville’s head coach, Jim Walz spoke of Managakahia after a close win for the Cardinals in the 2018-19 season. “If you’re a basketball fan in this city... If you don’t come out here to watch her, shame on you. I have no idea where there’s not 5,000 people, 6,000 people in this place every day watching that kid play. She is spectacular.”

Touted as the best basketball player on Syracuse’s campus before she was diagnosed, Mangakahia is looking forward to being even better. “I definitely came out stronger and my mental state of mind is where it probably would have never been to, gotten to in my entire lifetime,” said Mangakahia.