The women’s basketball program’s first head coach guided Stonehill to the Elite Eight in 1994 and the Final Four in 1995.

EASTON – The memories have been flowing for her all week long, ever since the Stonehill College women’s basketball team earned a trip to the Elite Eight.

Paula Sullivan was the only head coach to guide the program that far in the NCAA Division 2 tournament before the Skyhawks ended a 23-year drought on Monday night.

She took Stonehill to its first Elite Eight in 1994 and then made a return trip in 1995 when the team known as the Chieftains back then reached the Final Four.

So one of the first calls that current head coach Trisha Brown made after punching a ticket to the Elite Eight was to Sullivan, who was out of state and watched the game on the internet.

“There’s nothing better,’’ said Sullivan of advancing that far. “It was just a wonderful, wonderful experience.

“I said to Trish that you really have to embrace this because you never know when you’re going back again.’’

Fourth-seeded Stonehill plays fifth seeded Indiana of Pennsylvania on Monday at 9:30 p.m. in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Both times Sullivan took Stonehill to the Elite Eight, the games were in Fargo, N.D.

In ’94, Stonehill (27-5) lost in the quarterfinal round to California State-San Bernardino, 82-71, and had 23 turnvovers. Sue Patchett (22 points) and Michelle Doonan of Brockton (19) leading the way.

The next year, Stonehill (30-3) rallied from 14 points down to defeat Mercyhurst, 80-78, with Doonan (20), Patchett (18) and Kim Trudel (17) leading the way at Bison Sports Arena.

Stonehill then lost to Portland State, 75-59, in the semifinal round and dropped a consolation game to Missouri Western, 76-66.

“The people out there are lovely, lovely people and they love basketball,’’ said Sullivan. “They embrace that Elite Eight concept.

“The first time we were definitely in awe, just playing in an arena like that.

“But I remember coming back on the plane after we lost that first year and Michelle Doonan patted me on the back and said, ‘Don’t worry, coach, we’ll be back next year.’ We were fortunate enough to have that opportunity and make it to the Final Four.’’

Other key players were Erin O’Brien and Esther King along with Kristen Morast of Bridgewater and Kristen Kneisel, Mary Jean Lynch, Terri Rimkus and Debbie Suess

Sullivan, who was 479-159 in 25 seasons, coached one more season after the two trips to the Elite Eight, then became the school’s director of athletics and is now retired.

She doesn’t miss many of Stonehill’s home games each season and saw something special in this year’s team.

“They’ve had such a phenomenal season,’’ said Sullivan. “They work so hard. I’m so excited for them.

“Now, when you get out there, you have to stay focused, play hard, play together, play smart. You don’t have to do anything different on the basketball court but you can’t get caught up in what can be a circus atmosphere. You have to know why you’re going.

“What I remember is the competition was immense. I thought we were a very good team but there were some outstanding, outstanding teams.’’

Jim Fenton may be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @JFenton_ent.