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Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer becomes winningest women’s basketball coach

Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer talks with Stanford guard Kiana Williams.
Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer talks with Stanford guard Kiana Williams during a break against Pacific on Tuesday in Stockton. VanDerveer became the winningest women’s coach in history breaking Pat Summitt’s record of 1,098.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Tara VanDerveer became the winningest women’s college basketball coach Tuesday night, passing the late Pat Summitt with her 1,099th victory as No. 1 Stanford romped to a 104-61 victory over Pacific.

Dressed casually in all black, VanDerveer received the game ball after the final buzzer. Her dancing players chanted “Tara! Tara!” and gave her a new pullover reading “T-DAWG” to celebrate the latest milestone for the Hall of Fame coach in her 35th season on The Farm and 42nd overall as a college head coach.

“It’s really sweet,” VanDerveer said.

The 67-year-old VanDerveer improved her career record to 1,099-253. The road to this historic night began with her first head coaching job at the University of Idaho from 1978-80, and then moved to Ohio State (1980-85) and Stanford, where she is 947-202. Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma is right behind at 1,093 wins.

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After the history-making win in a draped-off area upstairs that served as Stanford’s locker room, VanDerveer was set to receive a plaque containing a piece of the floor from Stanford’s home court at Maples Pavilion. A framed proclamation from Palo Alto Mayor Adrian Fine was another memento. White long-sleeved shirts commemorating the night were made for the players as well as hand-held confetti poppers and individual mini cakes with an attached sticker that read, “Tara at the top.” Silver balloons with the numbers 1,099 adorned the room.

Just as the humble VanDerveer prefers, she broke Summitt’s mark going largely under the radar and with little fanfare given the game took place in California’s Central Valley — about 80 miles from the Bay Area. No fans were allowed into Spanos Center, either.

“I really hope Pat Summit is looking down and saying, ‘Great job Tara, keep it going,’” VanDerveer said.

Stanford (5-0) couldn’t play a home game with the Tigers on Nov. 29 because of a positive coronavirus test in the Pacific program and then again Tuesday because of COVID-19 restrictions in Santa Clara County that sent the Cardinal on the road for three weeks. They spent much of that stretch in Las Vegas before traveling to Berkeley to play California in a Sunday night game, when VanDerveer tied Summitt’s record.

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Traveling from Berkeley on Tuesday, Stanford wound up getting caught in traffic due to an accident that delayed the Cardinal’s arrival at the arena by 30 minutes.

It hardly mattered.

Anna Wilson got Stanford off to a fast start with an opening four-point play. Kiana Williams added seven consecutive points in the first quarter to get the Cardinal rolling.

VanDerveer thanked her parents and family.

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“Don’t cry, Mom,” VanDerveer instructed mother Rita, who was watching on TV.


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