A bittersweet 16: Women’s basketball ends season with loss to NC state

March 29, 2024, 10:11 p.m.

It was a bittersweet return home for senior forward Cameron Brink. Despite an excellent defensive effort with seven cumulative blocks, the six-foot-four forward recieved four quick fouls in the first three quarters.

With under two minutes elapsed in the fourth quarter, Brink had to pick up NC State star guard Aziah James at the top of the key after a switch on a screen. James tried to attack the open space on the left side of the court, with Brink attempting to cut her off, but unfortunately Stanford’s star got to her spot a little too late: James drew a blocking foul that sidelined Brink for the rest of the game.

From the bench, the projected No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA draft saw her college career end prematurely — the Stanford women’s basketball team (30-6, 15-3 Pac-12) lost to the NC State Wolfpack (30-6, 13-5 ACC) 77-67. 

But Brink’s post game remarks emphasized gratitude, not regret or sorrow.

“I’m really at peace with my career and how it went,” Brink said. “We just came up short today.”

Brink leaves Stanford as one of the most decorated players in program history. The senior has won two Pac-12 Player of the Year awards and three Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Head coach Tara VanDerveer said she was sad to let Brink go on this note.

“Cam is a phenomenal player, a phenomenal person,” VanDerveer said. “I’m really sad this is her last game in a Stanford uniform.”

Brink wasn’t the only player who suited for Stanford one last time, as graduate guard Hannah Jump played her last game for the Cardinal.

“This program means so much to me,” Jump said, tearing up. “I don’t have a sister, so these [girls] are literally my sisters. I’m just so grateful that Tara gave me the opportunity to come back for one more year.”

The game revealed key deficiencies that the team must shore up next season. According to VanDerveer, the team needs more offensive production from its perimeter players. 

“What I’m hopeful about is that seeing the improvement Kiki made, we need Talana, Elena, Courtney, Nunu and Chloe to make that same improvement,” VanDerveer said.

Despite the bittersweet close, the season had many watershed moments for the Stanford program. VanDerveer broke former Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski’s record for most wins by a Division 1 head coach. Moreover, the team won the Pac-12 regular season for the last time in conference history. 

Looking ahead, the Cardinal will prepare for an inaugural season as part of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). As the team can no longer look to Jump and Brink as upperclassmen leaders, the responsibility will now be handed to Iriafen to guide the team to further heights. 

“Kiki is just the bright light, the leader, the inspiration for all of our young players,” VanDerveer said. “She just got in the gym and worked. That’s what we need our other players to do. That’s the only way you get better.”

Kaushik Sampath is a desk editor for the sports section. He is a sophomore from Fayetteville, Arkansas, who's undecided on his major. You can catch him watching and ranting about his beloved Arkansas Razorbacks or hanging out with friends on campus. Contact him at sports 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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