Tara VanDerveer ties Krzyzewski for most college basketball wins

No. 8 Stanford women’s basketball (16-2, 5-1 Pac-12) secured a win over Oregon (11-8, 2-4 Pac-12) on Friday, putting head coach Tara VanDerveer one game away from having the most college basketball wins of all time. VanDerveer, who is already the all-time winningest coach in women’s college basketball, is now tied with former Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski at 1,202 career wins. 

Junior forward Kiki Iriafen and sophomore guard Talana Lepolo led the offensive charge for the Cardinal. Iriafen earned another double-double with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Meanwhile, Lepolo scored 13 points and had eight assists. 

The Cardinal were indomitable from tip-off, taking a 20-0 lead against the Ducks. Early on, junior guard Elena Bosgana shined with 8 points and excellent defensive play.

Star senior forward Cameron Brink had six of Stanford’s first 20 points, but with 3:41 left in the first quarter, Brink exited the game after Oregon guard Sofia Bell collided with what appeared to be her left knee. Brink rejoined the team on the bench in the third quarter but did not play for the rest of the game. The team is awaiting an update on Brink’s injury status.

After Brink’s departure, the Ducks scored 13 unanswered points, changing the momentum of the game. By the second quarter, Oregon had cut Stanford’s lead to 6.

But the Cardinal broke away again: with key shots from freshman forward Nunu Agara and junior forward Brooke Demetre, Stanford extended their lead to 43-26 at the half. 

Despite Oregon’s efforts, including by Duck guard Chance Gray, who scored 19 points, Stanford led for the whole game. With a late offensive run by Iriafen, the Cardinal went up by as much as 28 points in the fourth quarter.  

Iriafen, who had only 3 points at halftime, spoke about her second-half explosiveness after the game:  “I was rushing in the first half, trying to navigate. They are a lot bigger than me.”

“Tara told me to slow down, read the defense, look to run the offense a little bit more and wait for my shot to come. Slowing down, being patient and trying to find my teammates resulted in me being able to score,” Iriafen said.

Stanford secured the victory over Oregon with a final score of 88-63. After the game, the fans and players gave VanDerveer a standing ovation to celebrate her most recent milestone. Brink and Iriafen even picked up VanDerveer following the win. 

“Tara is a little bit older, so I didn’t want to hurt her too much,” Iriafen said. “I just wanted to honor her, show her we all love her and that we’re really happy for her.”

Lepolo weighed in on VanDerveer’s legacy. 

“In the circle after the game, Kiki mentioned that Tara has been winning since our parents were kids. That just completely puts it into perspective,” Lepolo said. 

VanDerveer, who many say always put the team first, said that she focused on the matchup over chasing a new record.

“Coming to the game tonight was just this: we’re playing Oregon,” VanDerveer said. “I just don’t allow myself to go there. I know it’s a big number, but it’s not the point of what I am doing at all.” 

Instead, VanDerveer said that she is always looking for ways to improve.

“Whatever I did today, I want to do a better job tomorrow. I love coaching this team. They play hard, they care about each other. I’m really glad to be on this journey with them,” VanDerveer said.

Lepolo had high praise for her coach’s work ethic and impact on women’s basketball.

“Tara, even with all of this experience, is also learning, and that’s just something that we can learn from her,” Lepolo said. “She’s a huge inspiration. Not only for the girls in the area, but all across the nation.”

VanDerveer compared her coaching style to her musical approach.

“I thought I could teach myself [piano], and that lasted two weeks,” VanDerveer said. Eventually, VanDerveer found success once she started working with a piano teacher.

“I was playing pieces that I could never have done by myself,” VanDerveer said. “I want to help Talana, Kiki, Cam and the rest of our team and take them somewhere they can’t go by themselves. That’s what I try to work hard at every day.“ 

With one more victory, VanDerveer will stand atop college basketball.

The Cardinal take on Oregon State at 2 p.m. Sunday in Maples Pavilion. Fans can expect a packed house hoping to witness a historical moment in college basketball.