LOS ANGELES (AP)Billie Moore, who coached the first U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team to a silver medal at the 1976 Montreal Games, has died. She was 79.
UCLA, where Moore was the women’s head coach from 1977-93, announced Thursday that she died from cancer at home Wednesday night in Fullerton, California, surrounded by family and friends.
Moore was the first coach in women’s basketball history to lead teams from two different schools to national championships. She guided Cal State Fullerton to the Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women title in 1970 and UCLA to the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) title in 1978.
Moore was inducted in both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.
She began her coaching career as an assistant at Southern Illinois. Moore then spent eight seasons at Cal State Fullerton, where she went 140-15. Moore led UCLA to a 27-3 mark in 1978 and posted a record 296 victories in her 16 years with the Bruins. In her 24-year career, she finished with a 436-196 record.
Moore coached the U.S. women’s Olympic team at the Montreal Games nearly a half century ago. Her team featured trailblazers of the game – Pat Summitt, Ann Meyers Drysdale and Nancy Lieberman – and went 3-2, finishing runner-up to the powerhouse Soviet Union (5-0).
”We’re in the locker room before the silver-medal game against Czechoslovakia. She looked at all of us and she said, `Ladies, whatever you do today, will change and support the course of women’s basketball history for the next 25 years,”’ Lieberman said in a statement released by the Hall of Fame on Thursday. ”To have that type of understanding and vision about the historical element of what we are doing, when we’re just thinking about getting loose in layup line, has never left me.”
USA Basketball said in a statement it was ”proud to have been part of (Moore’s) journey. Our thoughts are with her loved ones at this difficult time.”
The current U.S. Olympic coach, South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, said on social media that women’s basketball ”lost a legend today in Billie Moore … thank you coach for servicing our game with class, dignity and purpose.”
Staley’s team captured the seventh straight women’s gold medal at the Tokyo Games in 2021.
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