With No. 1 Stanford’s dominant 83-38 victory over Cal, Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer has tied the legendary Pat Summitt for the most wins in women’s college basketball history with 1,098. To commemorate this historic moment, The Daily asked VanDerveer’s former players and assistants, as well as those following the program, for their favorite memories of a Tara VanDerveer win.
All affiliations at time of game.
Dec. 1, 1978
Idaho 70 – Northern Montana 68
VanDerveer wins her first game as a head coach. Idaho had gone 2-16 and 10-7 in the two prior seasons before hiring VanDerveer, who was then a graduate assistant at Ohio State. In two seasons, she recorded records of 17-8 and 25-6 before returning to Ohio State as head coach.
“Before we went into overtime, we were up three and there’s like 10 seconds left in the game or something. I said, ‘Okay you guys look, we got this game, just don’t foul.’ We went out, the girl hit the shot, and we fouled her and I said, ‘this is going to be hard.’ I’m thinking ‘boy this coaching thing is not going to be easy.’ It wasn’t my first win but when we were in Las Vegas, I went into Lindy La Rocque’s office, and Lindy’s team had just won and we hadn’t played them yet. She was showing me her office and on the door was a sign from her staff, “congratulations Coach La Rocque, victory number one.” And I just teased Lindy, you only got 1,090 something to go. The first game was a fun game but I never would have imagined there were 1,000 more like it.
Dec. 1, 1981
Ohio State 74 – Toledo 59
First win for the Class of 1985.
Theresa Wiper, Yvette Angel, Carla Chapman and Kristin Watt
“The four of us represent Tara’s first head coach recruiting class at The Ohio State University. Tara had a clear vision of a “team” basketball program that was built on the fundamentals of the game and a lot of hard work. Our basketball family included the coaches, players, trainers (and their families), managers, equipment managers and athletic department personnel. She nurtured a game represented by a balanced offensive team where at least five people scored in double figures. Her defensive strategies were always well prepared. Tara was always professorial – a fundamental teacher of the game – wanting you to know not only how to do something, but why you were doing it.
A great deal of care and preparation went into every conditioning program, practice, and game. Practices were 3 1/2 hours long and completely mapped out. Basketball fundamentals were drilled into the team’s core daily and with reason and effort. Believe it or not, our teams at Ohio State were not allowed to dribble the ball unless you drove to the basket for a layup. She favored off ball player movement and passing the ball. It was a fun and enjoyable way to play the
game. And quite successful! Many times more excitement was generated by who made the pass than by who may have scored the actual points.
We remember vividly that practices were harder than games. We were more than prepared, physically and mentally. When an opponent might have had more talent, we made up for it with preparation and conditioning. Our teams remain tight knit to this day – especially those of us in her first head coach recruiting class! We want to thank Tara for those great (but hard) years where she pushed all of us to be better players, students, and people. (And, wink, Tara should
never try to learn to moonwalk in front of her team ever again.)
Nov. 21, 1984
Ohio State 87 – Illinois State 51
“As a starter I was very well prepared because Tara had challenged me, shared and taught me so much. The game was fun because practices were set up to be competitive.
Dec. 28, 1984
Ohio State 79 – Stanford 47
Stanford, in the midst of a 9-19 season, lost to VanDerveer in Columbus. The next year, Stanford hired VanDerveer and went 13-15. The Cardinal have not had a losing record since.
Feb. 3, 1985
Ohio State 56 – Iowa 47
Three members of the Ohio State women’s basketball team in VanDerveer’s fourth season with the program. From left to right: Toni Roesch, Francine Lewis and Barb Smith. (Photo courtesy of Francine Lewis)
“Ohio State and Iowa were always vying for the Big Ten Championship. We were playing out in Iowa. There was a sellout crowd. The arena held 17,000 people. They allowed 21,000 people in. They were four rows deep in the mezzanine and people were sitting in the aisle ways. It was so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves think. We ended up winning and won the Big Ten Championship that year, along with the three preceding years. It was an amazing win. After the game, there were so many people trying to leave that we needed a police escort to get us through the traffic to be able to make our flight.
March 21, 1985
Ohio State 81 – Penn State 78
I got a rebound and threw a behind the back outlet pass to the other team right in front of Tara and our bench! I didn’t dare look at Tara and she had confidence in me and left me in to set an (Ohio State NCAA) Tournament record in points (37) that was finally broken
by Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell in 2016! Tara had confidence in me and I wasn’t about to let her down! I will always have her back!
VanDerveer coaching on the Stanford sideline in 1986. (ROD SEARCEY/isiphotos.com)
“We were a four-time Big 10 Championship squad with her during my four years at Ohio State so there were lots of wins but watching my senior year team make it to the final eight of the NCAA Tournament was the biggest. I was watching and not playing because I had injured myself and blew my knee out. That was not only devastating to me but to our team. Still, I watched her as a coach keep the team functioning and playing together and we persevered and persisted through those challenges. She did that throughout her career.
Feb. 12, 1988
No. 9 Stanford 70 – No. 12 Washington 66
“While Tara has an incredible wealth of momentous victories, given that I’m from the early years, I’ll wax nostalgic and peg the 1987-88 victory over the University of Washington on our home floor. We had been thumped by them in round one of the PAC-10 league play and when they arrived at Maples, Tara turned the tables. It was a signature win that helped the team reach the NCAA Tournament. Our first effort under Tara in the NCAA netted an away victory over Montana that year before we got a taste of next-level hoops at Texas in the next round.
In all honesty, seeing Tara eclipse Pat Head Summitt is one of strong mixed emotions given the nature of Coach Summitt’s untimely death. I could not be prouder of Tara (and her staff) over the years as it — the upcoming all-time win record — is truly a milestone of historic proportions. Given life’s uncertainties made ever more prescient living in a pandemic, Tara’s energy, focus and determination inspire!
Feb. 18, 1988
No. 9 Stanford 94 – Cal 79
“I was a junior, and we beat them soundly 94-79. That was the first time we swept Cal at home and away. Who doesn’t like to sweep Cal? Tara was very happy and lots of players contributed in that game.
March 20, 1988
No. 13 Stanford 74 – No. 16 Montana 72 (OT)
“I guess it would be in 1988 our win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. I actually think it was a “play-in” game and then we were able to go on to play at regional site in Austin, TX at University of Texas. I felt like the win was the start to Tara’s and Stanford Women’s Basketball regular NCAA tournament appearances. You know… when all the storied history first began!
“I remember playing in my first NCAA game in 1988 in Montana. I don’t remember who we beat, but we were just excited for that win and then to go on and play Texas at the University of Texas.
“The win that’s stuck with me came during the breakthrough season, ’87-88, when the Cardinal went from a “sleeper” pick in the Preseason Top-20 to making the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Stanford drew Montana on the road, with the winner advancing to the Austin Regional Semifinal. The game went to overtime before the Cardinal won, 74-72. I don’t remember game details (though surely Jennifer Azzi did something amazing — every game, she conjured a moment of magic I’d never seen and she never repeated). The score remains indelible, as does postgame.
Going to overtime put the team at risk of missing the last flight of the day out of Missoula. So, after a hasty press conference in a small room of the gym, the Stanford bus headed to the airport with a police escort, and everyone made the plane. The Cardinal wound up losing to Texas — but next season, made it a step further, halted in the Rustin (La.) Regional Final by eventual national champion Louisiana Tech; and the season after, went all the way.
Dec. 15, 1989
No. 3 Stanford 85 – No. 2 Tennessee 71
“Once we beat them, we knew we had arrived.
“It was Finals Week leading up to that game and I just remember how focused Tara and our team were both on our finals and preparing to battle one of the best teams in the country and a program that I grew up watching compete for championships while growing up in Idaho. Despite all of the potential distractions from preparing to take finals, there was an incredible focus on what we needed to do to win that game that entire week. It still seems surreal to be honest. From arriving at the gym for the game, going through warmups as the fans packed the arena, seeing the legendary Pat Summit on the other sideline, and watching our leaders (Jennifer Azzi, Katy Steding, Trisha Stevens, Sonja Henning, Julie Zielstra and my freshman classmate Val Whiting) nearly flawlessly execute the game plan that led to victory 85-71. I remember the sights, the sounds, the smell of popcorn and the amazing feeling that we could be one of the best teams in the country if we kept working hard. It was a special experience that still brings a smile to my face more than 30 years later.
Mar. 24, 1990
No. 2 Stanford 114 – No. 22 Arkansas 87
VanDerveer on the Stanford bench in 1987. Left to right: June Daugherty, assistant coach Julie Plank, head coach Tara VanDerveer, assistant coach Amy Tucker, and assistant trainer Patti Millson. (TIM DAVIS/isiphotos.com)
“Defeating Arkansas in the West Regional, to a sellout crowd at Maples! Tara’s postgame comment was “We are going to Knoxville… why not US”? Before the season, Tara had a sign on our team’s locker room door that read “1990 National Champions, Stanford Cardinal.” She believed it every day!
“It was after five years of being with Stanford, and the first year we were at Stanford we were .500. So in five years to go from .500 to the national championship was just an amazing feeling. And we played the regional final at Stanford to get to the Final Four and with an absolutely sold out crowd. And that felt just amazing too. Our first game at Stanford, they didn’t even pull up the bleachers. So to go from that to a sold out crowd at Maples to get to the Final Four and then to win the national championship on April 1 was truly magical.
“There is nothing better than ending your college career with a win like that! It took four years to get there and Tara coached us to perfection.
“Over the course of the 1990 NCAA Tournament, Stanford did not take a single timeout. Tara’s motto was “keep running and don’t stop!” In the championship game, Stanford hit ten 3-pointers! Tara’s comment: “total team effort.” During the postgame celebration in the Tennessee locker room, after winning the first championship, the entire team and staff danced to “Can’t Touch This.” The highlight video after the end of the season, describing our 1990 TEAM was set to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” Unbelievable staff & players!
Jan. 11, 1991
No. 9 Stanford 75 – No. 12 Washington 71
“Covering Stanford women’s basketball was the crowning achievement of not only my Stanford Daily experience, but probably of my entire (short) career in journalism. It was a simpler time — I often called head coach Tara VanDerveer at home for interviews, and Amy Tucker once bought me a Whopper when I was traveling on the team bus.
Perhaps Stanford’s biggest conference rival in those days was the Washington Huskies – the only team to beat them during their 1989-90 title-winning season. That loss, coming by three points in front of a frenzied crowd in Seattle, would often be cited by the players and Tara as the motivator that catapulted them on their championship run. As a Seattle native, I was a UW fan before I got to Stanford and would remain one long after my time on the Farm. When the annual game between Stanford and UW came around in 1991, I felt a trip back to my hometown was warranted. I flew to Seattle to cover the game – and it turned out to be a great one.
Rereading my detailed account from the Stanford Daily archives, I can almost see the game in my head – Stanford getting out to a big lead, only to watch UW start chipping away in the second half, egged on by a roaring crowd in a sold-out Hec Edmundson Pavilion (which still had steel pillars that obstructed fan views in those days, long before the facility was remodeled). The Huskies in a full-court press, causing turnovers, and a rattled Stanford missing free throws (while maybe having some flashbacks to the previous year’s loss). UW edging closer and closer in the waning minutes, before finally coming up just a little bit short. There was (and still is!) no love lost between the two programs, and it was sweet revenge for Tara and Stanford, which would go on to make the Final Four that year.
Dec. 14, 1991
No. 3 Stanford 96 – No. 1Tennessee 95 (OT)
“We were down 13 points with a minute and a half to go at home to the national champions, Tennessee. I was at the foul line and all I could see was people leaving. I hit the winning shot, swish, at the right elbow, nothing but net. The game was so exciting that someone had a heart attack in the crowd.
April 5, 1992
No. 3 Stanford 78 – No. 15 Western Kentucky 62
“While Stanford was favored, the Hilltoppers were known as a dominant rebounding team, and there was some question about whether this might give the Cardinal some trouble. If I recall correctly, Tara and the coaching staff told the team that they were probably going to lose the battle on the boards so they would have to find other ways to win. This was a ploy of reverse psychological motivation, and it worked. Simply put, it pissed off the forwards to be told that they were outclassed, and they played with chips on their shoulders. Led by freshman Rachel Hemmer’s 15 boards, the Cardinal outrebounded the Hilltoppers. Whiting and small forward Chris MacMurdo got into the rebounding act. Shooting guard Christy Hedgpeth took up the shooting slack, as Western Kentucky focused their defense on Goodenbour. Ultimately Stanford won handily, and Molly Goodenbour was Final Four MVP, largely on the strength of her game against Staley and Virginia. It was the team’s second NCAA championship in 3 years, and they had all five starters returning the following year. It was beginning to look like winning championships was easy… When someone asked Tara in the post-game press conference about the following year, she wisely said something like, “There’s no guarantee that we’ll get back here. For now, we’re just going to take some time to savor this for a while.”
Feb. 24, 1994
No. 11 Stanford 80 – No. 6 USC 50
“My favorite win was against USC at home. We lost at both USC and UCLA down south and Tara was very upset with us. Beating Lisa Leslie and the Trojans at home was the redemption we needed. After the game Tara told me she was “so proud of me.” That meant the world to me.
March 11, 1995
No. 5 Stanford 55 – No. 14 Washington 50
KZSU color commentator and Daily sports co-editor
“Washington was Stanford’s fiercest conference rival in the early to mid-’90s, and the teams and fan bases (and maybe coaches?) didn’t care for one another. The Cardinal was fighting for a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed in this regular-season finale (no conference tourney then), and an inspired sellout crowd awaited Stanford in Seattle. In the media room before the game, KZSU’s Marc Oppenheimer recorded his usual “Timeout with Tara” for the pregame show and asked how she prepared for the Huskies’ physical style. Tara candidly said something to the effect of “in practice we foul the heck out of our post players.” A UW staffer overheard this and must have gossiped because in the postgame handshake Washington coach Chris Gobrecht and Tara started pointing fingers and jawing at each other. Stanford won as Tara beat the Huskies at their own game by unleashing a surprise weapon for the first time in volleyball superstar and future basketball All-American Kristin Folkl. The Cardinal didn’t get that No. 1 seed but did go on to beat Marion Jones and defending national champ North Carolina before losing to Connecticut in the Final Four the day before UConn won its first of 11 titles. Tara would be stuck on 403 collegiate wins for almost 20 months as she took the next season off to coach the U.S. National Team to Olympic gold.
Nov. 17, 1996
No. 1 Stanford 74 – No. 2 Alabama 65
“This was the season opener, and my first official game on the beat. It was an exhilarating introduction. 1 vs. 2, national television, Sports Illustrated on hand, a raucous, sellout crowd at Maples Pavilion. It was also a rematch of a taut NCAA Tournament game from the season before, a Sweet 16 game in Seattle that Stanford won in OT. All of that combined to make for a lively reminder of what a big deal women’s basketball had become at Stanford under Coach VanDerveer.
Dec. 15, 1996
No. 1 Stanford 82 – No. 5 Tennessee 65
“The place was packed and that dang Rocky Top song was so loud. The final score with us on top was louder than the song though. As a freshman to see such class and character from Tara and Amy and our entire coaching staff and team after such a great win left a lasting impression. It was special.
VanDerveer greets Tennessee coach Pat Summit before a Stanford 97-80 win during 2011 in Maples Pavilion. (JOHN TODD/isiphotos.com)
“I grew up in Georgia so I drove up on the winter break to cover the game in person. It was one of Pat Summitt’s worst seasons at Tennessee. They lost badly to Stanford at home that night, lost 10 games that season, but ultimately won the national title (Stanford lost to ODU in the Final Four that year). The mutual respect Tara and Pat had for each other was obvious in post-game interviews, which is nice to think about now as Tara ties Pat. But what I remember most is how the game itself just had that extra intensity that comes from playing in front of a hostile crowd in an arena where the home team almost always won. Stanford was the No. 1 team in the nation, but the Lady Vols were the defending national champions, and the hype over Kate Starbird and Chamique Holdsclaw going head to head was huge. From the opening tip it was obvious that Tara had her team well prepared, and Stanford more or less dominated the game.
Feb. 15, 1997
No. 3 Stanford 69 – Oregon 66
VanDerveer poses with the senior class of 2000, Milena Flores, Christina Batastini and Yvonne Gbalazeh. (DAVID GONZALES/isiphoto.com)
“Playing games at the old Mac Court was what I imagined it must have been like to play at the old Boston Garden — just an old, rickety building with the crowd right on top of you and going straight up. So when it was packed for a big game, like this one, it was noisy! Press row was not courtside, it was behind the first level of seats, and you had to climb some narrow stairs to get to it. I was seated in between the KZSU announcers, who were Jeremy Stone and Ray Salloom that season. It was so loud, we could only communicate through handwritten notes (and in the case of Jeremy and Ray, through their headsets), even though we sat next to each other. Anyway, the game was back and forth throughout and Stanford held a slim lead with about two minutes to go. They had possession and called timeout. I glance over at Ray, and he’s drawing up a play, spelling out that he thought Kate Starbird would curl off a screen, catch the pass at the top of the key, and can a dagger three-pointer. Played out exactly like Ray (and Coach VanDerveer) drew it up, and Stanford went on to the victory to stay unbeaten in conference play.
March 17, 2001
Stanford 76 – George Washington 51
- The “S” doesn’t stand for stupid.
- It’s not the start of the race but the finish.
- Mental is to physical as four is to one.
- You want to have fun, try winning… that’s fun!
- Sometimes you’re the dog and sometimes you’re the fire hydrant.
- Basketball is a team sport. If you’re into individual things, take up tennis!
- Basketball was invented as a team sport, it’s always been a team sport, and it always will be a team sport.
- This is not a democracy.
- Christmas is over; quit standing around like a decoration.
- Excuses are like belly buttons…everyone has one.
- Got to put the hammer down.
- I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night!
Nov. 30, 2002
No. 7 Stanford 63 – No. 2 Kansas State 57
“They were No. 2 in the nation at the time and we were playing without our All-American, Nicole Powell, who was injured. Maples was pretty packed, which created this incredible atmosphere. The game was tight the whole time. The whole team contributed and perhaps the most memorable was when Krista Rappahahn (Rapp) stepped in as freshman in the biggest game of her career thus far and sunk four free throws to seal the win.
The win also marked the highest ranked opponent that Stanford had beat in about five years, so felt like we made a statement: we’re back!
Mar. 27, 2005
No. 1 Stanford 76 – No. 10 UConn 59
VanDerveer coaches from the sideline and into the court of a game in December of 2006. (KYLE TERADA/isiphotos.com)
“Once we got to Kansas City, it felt so much bigger than basically playing in our backyard in Fresno. The other factor was the scar tissue around teams like UConn and Tennessee. Against UConn and Tennessee stuff just happened, and those programs with all those championships just seemed to make one more play, no matter what the talent balance between the teams.
Candice Wiggins played pretty badly in the first half, and Stanford was down six at the break. I don’t remember if I was already playing around with depressing ledes to my game story or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised. But Stanford came out in the second half and treated UConn — this team that felt like they had SUCH a built-in mental advantage — like they were a middle-of-the-road Pac-12 team. Everybody contributed in the second half, and even when it got close again down the stretch, it was weird — it didn’t feel like UConn had enough firepower, which is something I never would have imagined feeling.
To this day, I remember where I sat on the court, what the media room looked like, and how sure I was that this was the start of something special.
Dec. 22, 2007
No. 5 Stanford 73 – No. 1 Tennessee 69 (OT)
“There are so many special wins but the win over Tennessee at home stands out. We hadn’t beaten them in a long long while and getting over that hump in front of a packed crowd at Maples just before the holiday break was so special. I remember the entire team running into each other’s arms after we won in overtime. Forget acting like we’d been there before — we were happy! Pat Summitt and Tennessee were dominant, they had star player Candace Parker and came into the game ranked #1. We were not only proud of our team but also coach Tara for snagging that huge win. It gave our team a lot of confidence throughout the rest of the season. I remember boarding the plane to start the holiday break right after that game and I felt so good that all the hard work, the tough practices — it was all worth it! I believe that game was a turning point for our season and program back to a new wave of elite success. Later that season we advanced to the Final Four and kept achieving that year after year after year. Tara is the best “game prep” coach I know; she thoroughly prepares her squads, however, my favorite memories with her are on the team bus or at team dinner, cracking jokes on each other, even to this day, the jokes don’t stop. We are family for life and she’s my coach for life. I’m so proud of her!
Mar. 31, 2008
No. 4 Stanford 98 – No. 5 Maryland 87
“Beating Maryland in the regional final in 2008 in Spokane to go to the Final Four, the seventh time in program history and the first time after an 11-year absence from the Final Four.
April 6, 2008
No. 4 Stanford 82 – No. 2 UConn 73
“UConn was the top ranked team in the tournament, and Stanford never trailed en route to a dominant 82-73 win, which avenged a 66-54 loss earlier in the year. Notably, the win exemplified the transformation that the Cardinal undertook over the course of the season. In the fall, the team relied almost too heavily on its two stars, Candice Wiggins and Jayne Appel. This left Stanford vulnerable offensively, and Coach VanDerveer made adjustments to get more players involved. By the spring, Kayla Pedersen was so good that it was effectively a big three, and players like Ros Gold-Onwude, JJ Hones, and Jill Harmon had come into their own. The UConn game was a masterclass: Wiggins scored the most points, but Pedersen was arguably the offensive star, while Hones had a season-high assist total and Harmon was key off the bench. Meanwhile, Maya Moore, who was already other-worldly as a freshman, didn’t score for the first 13 minutes. It was a near perfect game at exactly the right time.
In an empty Haas Pavilion, VanDerveer wins her 1,098th game.