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Coach's timeout for opposing team player's injury heralded as moment of sportsmanship

USC coach, Dawn Staley, called for a third-quarter timeout when UCLA player Emily Bessoir was injured during their NCAA Tournament.

Coach's timeout for opposing team player's injury heralded as moment of sportsmanship
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Kevin C. Cox

Only true sports fans know how much it can teach us about life. Training with discipline, persevering through difficulties, accepting defeat, appreciating opponents, and learning from them at the same time. Sportsmanship is as much for life as for the sport itself. At UCLA, its women's basketball coach Cori Close was disappointed as her team's season ended on March 25 after it lost to South Carolina. But she did not hesitate from praising USC coach Dawn Staley for what Close described as a shining moment of sportsmanship and class amid USC's 59-43 win, as reported by The State.



South Carolina was leading UCLA 46-30 late in the third quarter at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, but Emily Bessoir, one of the Bruins' starting forwards, was injured as she battled with USC's Aliyah Boston for a rebound. Bessoir did not leave the court even as she suffered from pain as South Carolina advanced the ball up the court and turned it into an advantage and eventual victory — five offensive players against four defensive players. A referee had even noticed Bessoir's injury but had still not called a timeout.



At this moment, the USC coach Staley took matters into her own hands. Instead of pushing for a win and extending USC's 16-point lead against a woman-down UCLA defense, Staley called a 30-second timeout at the 1:22 mark of the third quarter so Bessoir could receive medical care. “That’s exactly what it showed: her class and her global view of the game and what was most important at that moment,” Close said. “She did call that timeout only because of Emily being down. … Right after the play, I just turned to her and I just said, ‘Thank you, Dawn,’ and she acknowledged it."



Close and Staley have had a strong professional relationship and commitment to the sport over the past years. Outside of being coaches at their respective schools for more than a decade, they have also crossed paths many times within the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, which represents NCAA coaches. Close is also the president of the association.





Close further elaborated on her praise for Staley. “I mean, I think these kinds of moments in games, they reveal people’s character,” Close said. “And I think it just revealed a layer of her character, of what she deems most important, and that’s always the kids.” ESPN’s broadcast team also noted the call for a timeout after the initial confusion on whether Staley or an official called for a timeout after Bessoir’s reported thigh injury. Staley confirmed after the game that she called the timeout exclusively so Bessoir could get adequate medical attention.





“I mean, I don’t like to see players go down in any situation,” Staley said. “If we can control the situation, we can get (help) — 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.”





Finally, South Carolina outscored UCLA to build up an insurmountable lead and eventually become a part of the Elite Eight. As for Bessoir, her injury wasn't too serious and she could bounce back and score six points with three rebounds. All thanks to Staley!


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