UCLA coach Cori Close applauds South Carolina's Dawn Staley 'class' for response to injury
To Dawn Staley, it was the right thing to do. But to UCLA women's basketball coach Cori Close, what South Carolina women's basketball's coach decided to do in the heat of competition speaks volumes about Staley.
In the third quarter of No. 1 seed South Carolina's Sweet 16 win over 4-seed UCLA on Saturday afternoon, Bruins sophomore forward Emily Bessoir got tangled up with All-American Aliyah Boston and went down with what appeared to be a leg injury.
The Gamecocks transitioned to the other end of the floor on offense in the flow of the game, and as their possession continued while Bessoir stayed down on the court on the other end, Staley called a timeout so the injured player could be tended to.
"I don't like to see players go down in any situation," Staley said after the game. "If we can control the situation, we can get − you never know what type of injury it is, so you want to get medical attention over to them as quickly as possible.
"It was the right thing to do. It was the right thing to do to make sure the young lady was OK."
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South Carolina was in control of the game, up 14 points at the time. But with more than a quarter left in the game, the women's NCAA Tournament game was far from over.
Staley's action meant a lot to Close.
"Well, that's exactly what it showed, is her class and her global view of the game and what was most important in that moment," Close said. "She did call that timeout only because of Emily being down, and I just − right after the play, I just turned to her and I just said, 'Thank you, Dawn,' and she acknowledged.
"I think these kind of moments in games, they reveal people's character, and I think it just revealed a layer of her character, of what she deems most important, and that's always the kids."
Close and Staley know each other well. But the health and safety of the players for either team was what it was all about for Staley.
"I know Cori – I would have done it for anybody, though, but I know Cori well, and I know the type of coach and person that she is," Staley said. "She would have done it – she would have done the same thing had one of our players went down."
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: South Carolina's Dawn Staley praised by UCLA after player's injury