ST. PAUL, Minn. — The top women’s college basketball coach in the country made her way to Minnesota on Wednesday to speak to a sold-out crowd of 1,800 people at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium on St. Catherine University’s campus.

Coach Dawn Staley is a household name in women’s college basketball, after leading the South Carolina Gamecocks to their third NCAA championship with her as head coach, even finishing with an undefeated season.

“To have her come to our school and tell us basically the same advice she gives to her team, it’s really as if nothing is different on her level,” said Karis Zezza, who attended Staley’s speaking engagement with her St. Kate’s basketball teammates.

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Zezza played high school basketball with South Carolina’s emerging star, Tessa Johnson. Zezza is a senior using Staley’s advice for her life after basketball.

“I’ll be going into the nursing field, so I think taking her perspective on — not to judge and meeting people where they’re at — I’ll be working with a pretty vulnerable population, so making sure everyone feels safe,” said Zezza.

Hattie Fox, a freshman on the team, also attended Staley’s speech. Fox is a freshman and the MIAC Rookie of the Year.

It’s a title she earned by leading the conference in 3 pointers, including a half-court buzzer beater.

“You can have a talented team, like she said, but it comes down to competitiveness and your nature and how bad you want it. Because if you don’t love the game, especially in Division III, you’re not going to make it,” said Fox.

St. Kate’s head women’s basketball coach, Don Mulhern, also benefited from Staley’s advice, being reminded what matters most when coaching.

“[Our players] are people. They have dreams, hopes, fears, their family, [and]their friends. Those things matter a whole lot more than the Xs and Os on the court,” said Mulhern.

This past basketball season, St. Kate’s had 19 wins, the most in school history. They finished third in their conference.