ROCHESTER – When Dolores Mihalich was diagnosed with colon cancer, doctors gave her six months to live. She fought for another seven years.
Mihalich, the mother of Niagara University coach Joe Mihalich, lost her battle with the disease Wednesday (Nov. 21) at the age of 88. Just before she died at a hospice facility in Philadelphia, caregivers were wondering why all Dolores' clothes were purple. There probably wasn't a bigger Niagara fan than Dolores Mihalich.
"It was a long, tough week and a very emotional week," Joe Mihalich said on Saturday. "Whether she's here or not I can still hear her saying, ‘Be where you're supposed to be, do what you're supposed to do.' Even though she's not here anymore, she still motivated me."
Dolores became a media darling back in 2005 when the Purple Eagles made their first run to the NCAA Tournament since the Calvin Murphy era. Newspapers across the country wrote about her strength and perseverance.
"I met her a couple of times and she was just a nice person, a nice person to be around," Antoine Mason said.
Saturday's game, an 80-75 loss to St. Bonaventure, served as an outlet for Mihalich.
"It helped knowing how much she loved Niagara basketball," he said.
Mihalich received condolence text messages from the mothers of Mason and Juan'ya Green as well as Mason's father, Anthony, the former New York Knicks forward. Most importantly, Mihalich's players helped through the grief.
"It was like family," Mihalich said softly. "It felt good."