Less than eight years ago, Joanne Boyle lay in a hospital bed in North Carolina, worried she might be "a vegetable" after a brain hemorrhage left the Duke assistant coach unable to speak or walk at 38.
On Monday, she guided the California basketball team she has coached for four seasons into the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 with a 99-73 second-round victory over Virginia at the Galen Center.
"I'm so excited. I'm so proud of my team," Boyle said.
The Golden Bears (27-6) had little trouble with the Cavaliers, taking an 18-point lead at halftime as senior forward Ashley Walker scored 20 of her 32 points, tying her career-high. Monica Wright led Virginia (24-10) with 26 points.
Other than occasional tremors in Boyle's left hand, there is little obvious to indicate what she has overcome.
"It's a part of my life. It's who you are now," said Boyle, who recovered after rehabilitating for a year following surgery for an arteriovenous malformation, a congenital defect that produced the bleeding and stroke-like symptoms.
Her medical crisis, she said, had changed her life in "a lot of good ways."
Struck by illness in November, 2001, Boyle was back traveling with the Duke team by March with the Blue Devils on their way to the Final Four. What she did next surprised almost everyone: She left Duke to take her first head coaching job at Richmond in 2002.
"I was in that comfort zone at Duke," before the crisis, she said. "You survive that, you live through that, and if you fail as a head coach, big deal."
But Boyle didn't fail: She guided Richmond to three 20-win seasons and now has guided Cal to its first Sweet 16.
U.Va. women bounced by Cal
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