STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Stanford’s players formed a postgame circle and Kiki Iriafen offered her celebratory teammates a little perspective on their coach, Tara VanDerveer:
“Tara’s been winning since our parents were kids.”
Yes, pushing five decades.
A head coach since her mid-20s and still doing it now at 70, VanDerveer tied Mike Krzyzewski as the winningest coach in college basketball history with her 1,202nd victory Friday night. She guided the No. 8 Cardinal past Oregon 88-63 while losing leading scorer Cameron Brink for the final three quarters with a leg injury.
“It’s like a dream come true. To have a dream and watch it play out,” VanDerveer said.
“I planned to go to law school because there were no coaches. That was not a job for women. My timing was horrible for playing but it was very good for coaching. I was a head coach when I was like 24 years old. I’m just really thankful that I get to have a job that it’s not a ‘JOB’ job. I love coming to the gym, it was just fun at practice today. Just to experience this is more than I ever could have dreamed of.”
Cardinal players hugged their smiling coach and lifted her up in celebration after the teams shook hands. Brink even took a turn, perhaps a positive sign regarding her leg. She was headed for an X-ray.
VanDerveer can set the record Sunday, when she goes for 1,203 as Stanford (16-2, 5-1 Pac-12) hosts Oregon State. A couple dozen former Stanford players are expected to be on hand for the potential milestone.
“The amount of people that come just shows the impact she’s had on the game, the impact she’s had at Stanford and on this program,” Iriafen said. “For us, we’re just soaking it in how honored we are to be a part of her historic moment even though she won’t allow herself to celebrate it too big. We’ll celebrate for her. This is just an amazing experience being here and being coached under her. The opportunity to make history on Sunday is really exciting.”
Brink landed awkwardly on her left leg and limped to the locker room with help at the 3:41 mark of the opening quarter. She returned to the bench just before the end of the period. Brink had made all three of her field goals for six points to go with two rebounds, an assist and a steal in six minutes.
Iriafen had 21 points on 10-for-17 shooting, 15 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots as the Cardinal bounced back from a 71-59 loss at then-No. 5 Colorado on Sunday. Talana Lepolo added 13 points and eight assists with just one turnover.
VanDerveer is in her 38th season at Stanford and 45th as a college coach. She turned around the programs at Idaho and Ohio State before arriving in the Bay Area. VanDerveer has adapted based on her players’ strengths, cherishing the opportunity to learn something new from fellow coaches at every level.
And now she has matched Coach K’s win total with Duke and Army.
“I think any young coach out there, that’s who you should watch,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said of VanDerveer. “That’s how you should coach, and I’m really happy for them. I’m also happy for us that we weren’t the record setting one. We’re just the tying one. But I’m happy for her. She deserves everything that she’s getting and has gotten.”
Stanford raced ahead 20-0 with Oregon missing its first eight shots before Kennedy Basham’s layup at the 3:45 mark of the first quarter.
Chance Gray contributed 19 points and five assists to lead the Ducks (11-8, 2-4), who had won their previous two after a three-game skid.
Oregon: Oregon committed 12 turnovers after finishing with 27 in a 70-68 victory last Sunday at Arizona that was played without fans because of an ice storm in Eugene. Stanford scored 15 points off the miscues. The Ducks have lost their last seven against the Cardinal.
Stanford: VanDerveer has just one losing season, going 13-15 in her first campaign at Stanford in 1985-86. She has more wins than 355 of the 360 Division I NCAA programs. She was away from the Cardinal for a 29-3 season — she doesn’t get those victories — while coaching the 1996 U.S. Olympic team that captured a gold medal in the Atlanta Games.
Oregon: At California on Sunday.
Stanford: Hosts Oregon State on Sunday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball