Tara VanDerveer became the all-time winningest coach in college basketball history Sunday, passing former Duke and Army coach Mike Krzyzewski with her 1,203rd career victory when No. 8 Stanford beat Oregon State 65-56.
At 70 years old and a head coach since age 24, VanDerveer celebrated on her team's home floor at Maples Pavilion with a couple dozen former players on hand to cheer the Hall of Fame coach on for yet another milestone in a decorated 45-year career filled with memorable accomplishments.
Fans chanted “Tara! Tara!” in the closing seconds before the celebration began.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment for Tara VanDerveer, who is already one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of basketball,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “This is yet another milestone to add to an amazing legacy. More important than all the astounding numbers and career accomplishments, she’s positively impacted countless lives as a coach and a mentor. Tara remains a true guardian of our sport.”
It was tense at times, with VanDerveer standing with arms crossed and pacing the sideline as Kiki Iriafen and her supporting cast made the big plays when it mattered most — including Iriafen's first 3-pointers. Stanford was missing All-American Cameron Brink because of a lower left leg injury suffered in Friday’s win over Oregon.
VanDerveer improved to 1,203-267 overall and 1,051-216 over 38 seasons at Stanford. A 17-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year with five national Coach of the Year honors, VanDerveer has captured three NCAA titles with Stanford — 1990, '92 and 2021 — and coached the 1996 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal at the Atlanta Games during a year away from Stanford.
Iriafen contributed a career-high 36 points on 16-for-26 shooting and 11 rebounds and Talana Lepolo 14 points and six assists for the Cardinal (17-2, 6-1 Pac-12). The game drew a near-capacity crowd of 7,022 at Maples Pavilion, which holds 7,233.
Stanford led 28-22 at the break having shot just 12 of 34 but was willed in the second half as former star players such as Jennifer Azzi, Chiney Ogwumike, Ros Gold-Onwude and Jayne Appel-Marinelli were among those in attendance along with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice supporting the beloved coach.
VanDerveer received warm ovations at every chance, from the moment she walked out onto the court during pregame warmups and again for introductions.
Raegan Beers scored 18 points to lead Oregon State (15-3, 4-3), which had won three straight games.
Stanford missed 10 straight shots during a first-quarter funk before Brooke Demetre connected from deep at the 1:50 mark.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.