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Heart-stopping night for USC’s Staley in return to Temple, home

Thursday evening Dawn Staley and the South Carolina Gamecocks played on the road at Temple — Staley’s former university. The Gamecocks made sure to get the win, but all eyes were on Staley as Philly showed loved to a hometown favorite.

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame 2013 Class On Court Announcement Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

Philadelphia, PA — Life came full circle for Dawn Staley as she became the all-time winningest coach in the history of South Carolina’s athletic program with 232 wins.

And, ironically on Temple’s home court.

Staley returned to her hometown and first collegiate coaching stop when No.4 South Carolina defeated Temple in an easy 87-60 win on Thursday night at the Liacouras Center.

It’s not too often that the opposing team’s coach gets a standing ovation before tip-off.

Before becoming the women’s basketball head coach for the Gamecocks, Staley coached Temple’s team, leaving as the winningest coach in Temple’s women's basketball history, ending with a 172-80 record. She coached Temple’s program from 2000-2008, and helped them reach the postseason seven times with six NCAA Tournament appearances.

“Philly always shows love and I am humbled by it… it’s great to see your history unfold in front of you. It’s ironic how it all plays out. Having Candice’s jersey retired and the national championship trophy shown,” Staley commented on coming back to play at Temple.

And to show just how important Staley is to the city of Philadelphia, a portion of West Diamond Street from 23rd to 25th Street was named “Dawn Staley Lane,” per the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“It’s great to see them [Philadelphia] pay it back like that to our coach,” said South Carolina forward A’ja Wilson.

Staley also had the honor of watching Candice Dupree’s number four jersey be retired into the rafters. A 2006 graduate, Dupree played four collegiate seasons under head coach Staley at Temple.

“We always joke that she should have a boulevard, not a lane,” said Dupree, who now plays for the Indiana Fever.

In her first coaching position, Staley paved the way for Temple’s program before her former teammate Tonya Cardoza took over Temple’s program. Staley and Cardoza go back to their collegiate days at the University of Virginia, where the two players starred together in multiple NCAA National Tournament appearances. As a senior in 1991, Cardoza led Virginia in scoring and tied Dawn Staley for rebounding.

“We went to school together. We’re both inner city kids that didn’t come from a lot… so we looked out for each other. If she got 20 dollars, she was sharing that with me," Cardoza said about her relationship with Staley.

I guess it is safe to say that the two were always neck and neck.

“Leading up to it [the game], it’s like your sister on the sideline,” said Staley.

Staley is now in her 17th season as a coach, after having success in her professional career with the Charlotte Sting and Houston Comets. But one thing may forever remain the same — Philadelphia’s love for Staley.

Big night for South Carolina Gamecocks women's basketball's head coach Dawn Staley, as she returns to Philadelphia to claim a win against Temple.

Posted by Swish Appeal on Thursday, December 21, 2017