Remembering USC women’s basketball’s last Sweet 16 game — and victory — against Dawn Staley’s mentor

The workings of life and history are remarkable in their ability to create all sorts of connections and crosscurrents we marvel at decades later. Such is the case with USC women’s basketball’s last Sweet 16 game — and win — in the Women’s NCAA Tournament. Dawn Staley didn’t play in that game against USC, but her mentor, Debbie Ryan, coached against the Trojans.

Dawn Staley played at Virginia from 1988 through 1992, so she was gone by the time USC faced UVA in the 1994 Sweet 16. However, Staley’s coach — Debbie Ryan — was still there, leading Virginia through a very prosperous period. The apex of Ryan’s very successful tenure in Charlottesville came when Staley was the team’s unquestioned leader. Virginia made three straight Final Fours from 1990 through 1992, reaching the national championship game once. From 1990 through 1996, Virginia made the Elite Eight six out of seven times.

1994 is the one year UVA didn’t make the Elite Eight in that seven-season span. USC was the team which denied the Cavaliers, 85-66.

This was more than just a win over Dawn Staley’s coach, though. Tina Thompson, who helped USC win this game and move to the 1994 Elite Eight, became Virginia’s head coach over a decade later.

Debbie Ryan coached Virginia through 2011, when a woman named Joanne Boyle took over. Boyle left Cal, where she had been coaching the Golden Bears. The woman who succeeded her in Berkeley: Lindsay Gottlieb.

There’s quite a lot of women’s college basketball history attached to USC’s last Sweet 16 game and victory. Thirty years later, the Trojans finally return to the Sweet 16 with Gottlieb leading the way.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire