Medina Dixon, a star for Old Dominion's 1985 women's basketball national championship team, died Monday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. ODU Athletics department announced Dixon's death on its website. She had turned 59 on Nov. 2.
Dixon, a Boston native, won an Olympic bronze medal in 1992 when she led the U.S. team in scoring at 15.8 points per game. In 1990, she won gold at the FIBA World Cup (then called the World Championship) with the U.S. squad.
Dixon began her college career at South Carolina in 1981-82, averaging 16.2 points and 8.3 rebounds as a freshman. She then transferred to Old Dominion for her last three seasons and finished her college career averaging 17.4 points and 8.7 rebounds. Her No. 13 is retired by Old Dominion.
With ODU, she went to the 1983 women's Final Four (falling to Louisiana Tech in the semifinals) and the 1984 Elite Eight (falling to Cheyney), then won the 1985 NCAA final 70-65 over Georgia. Dixon had 18 points and 15 rebounds in the championship game.
She played professionally overseas in Italy, Japan and Russia. At 6-foot-3, Dixon was a mobile forward who could play facing the basket.
"She was a Cheryl Miller-type player," said LSU coach Kim Mulkey, who played for Louisiana Tech against Dixon in the 1983 Final Four and with her on a USA Basketball junior national team in 1981. "She could take you outside. She was ahead of the sport at that time as a big player, just like Cheryl was."
Mulkey said she called to talk to Dixon while she was receiving her cancer treatments.
"Her voice was weak, but we talked and laughed about things that happened during our [USA Basketball trip]," Mulkey said. "When I think of Medina, first of all I think of her beautiful smile. She was always laughing about things in the huddle and on the floor. Just a great person to be around."