Lusia Harris, ‘Queen of Basketball,’ Dies at 66

Lusia Mae Harris was born on Feb. 10, 1955, and grew up in Minter City, Miss. Her dad and mom, Willie and Ethel (Gilmore) Harris, have been sharecroppers. Lusia picked cotton but additionally performed basketball together with her brothers of their yard. She molded her recreation, particularly her defensive expertise, at Amanda Elzy High School, in Greenwood, earlier than attending Delta State.

By the time she was chosen for the 1976 United States Olympic team, Ms. Harris was a star. In addition to Summitt, the squad included Nancy Lieberman and Ann Meyers, two future Basketball Hall of Famers, and Gail Marquis. Harris scored the primary factors in girls’s Olympic historical past within the opening recreation towards Japan, which the United States misplaced.

One of her largest challenges was playing against Juliana Semenova, the Soviet’s 7-foot middle.

“She is so much taller, so much bigger and she didn’t jump,” Harris informed the Kentucky Women’s Basketball Oral History final 12 months. “All she had to do was extend her arms. And I mean, I’m only 6-3. The thing I figured out is that I would beat her down the court because she wasn’t that fast.”

The Soviets routed the Americans, 112-77, with Semenova scoring 32 to Harris’s 18. The United States workforce nonetheless departed Montreal with a silver medal after defeating Czechoslovakia.

In 5 video games, Harris averaged 15.2 factors and seven rebounds.

Harris graduated with a bachelor’s diploma in well being, bodily training and recreation. But she had few alternatives to play skilled basketball. The W.N.B.A. was twenty years away. The males bought the alternatives she craved.

“Yeah, they’re millionaires, famous,” she stated in “The Queen of Basketball.” “But I wanted to grow up and shoot that ball just like they would shoot it, and I did.”

Harris labored as an admissions counselor and assistant girls’s basketball coach at Delta State; performed briefly for the Houston Angels of the short-lived Women’s Professional Basketball League in the course of the 1979-80 season; and coached the Texas Southern University girls’s basketball workforce from 1984 to 1986.

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