Friday, May 14th, 2021

Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer ties Pat Summitt for career wins, the victory included a dunk from sophomore Fran Belibi

Published on December 14, 2020

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VanDerveer’s career record improves to 1,098-253 (.813)

No. 1 Stanford moved to 4-0 as Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer tied the legendary Pat Summitt for the most wins in women’s college basketball history with an 83-38 win over Cal (0-5). While the victory didn’t come on VanDerveer’s home floor and was held without fans due to Covid-19 restrictions, there was some icing on the cake.

With 51 seconds left in the second quarter, sophomore forward Fran Belibi completed a breakaway dunk after stealing the ball on the other end of the court.

“It was nice to be able to get one,” Belibi said. “I know that’s been something that’s been around my name for a while,” she said. “It was cool to do it at Cal. Obviously, we couldn’t do it at Maples right now.”

The dynamic play put Belibi’s team up by 26. After a three-point jumper from fellow sophomore Hannah Jump, the Cardinal went into the break with a 44-15 lead.

While Cal held Stanford to 15 points in the third quarter, the Bears’ deficit combined with anemic shooting was too much for the injury-riddled young squad to overcome. Cal only had eight healthy players and are in a season without key contributors, a trio of guards who are the team’s best scorers. Sophomores Cailyn Crocker and Jazlen Green along with freshman Alma Elsnitz are all out for the season due to injuries.

The Cardinal capped the game by outscoring Cal 24-15 in the last quarter for a dominant victory that put VanDerveer, in her 35th season at Stanford, one game shy of breaking Summitt’s record.

Ten players scored for the Cardinal led by freshman forward Cameron Brink with 16 points and seven rebounds. It was the third time Brink scored in double digits in three-out-of-four outings. Jump scored 15 points, Belibi finished with 14 points plus eight rebounds and senior guard Kiana Williams added 11 points. This past week, sophomore guard Haley Jones received the Pac-12 Player of the Week award. She put in eight points, six rebounds, and four assists.

Freshman center Fatou Samb led Cal with 10 points while first-year forward Michelle Onyiah neared a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds.

“I thought we saw some bright spots again from a few people,” Cal head Smith said about the game, “and you know, we’ve just got to continue to progress, and build this thing and hopefully we can get everyone firing on, you know, at the same time to put together a really productive game as a whole.”

Smith started out her postgame remarks congratulating her college coach, VanDerveer, on her milestone.

“Obviously, I’m really happy for her. I don’t know anyone who’s done better.”

It was a mutual admiration society as VanDerveer complimented Smith saying “it’s a challenging time” for Cal but she thinks Charmin is doing a great job.

For Stanford, the challenging times include being on the road for about two weeks due to Santa Clara County’s restrictions on travel for residents. The team relocated to Las Vegas temporarily, playing two games there before arriving in Berkeley on Saturday. VanDerveer referred to her team as “road warriors.”

With all the attention focused on her and her career wins, the record-tying coach deflected the attention from herself.

“Basketball was invented, and has always has been and always will be a great team sport.”

She commented that successful teams are also about athletic directors taking a chance, “great assistant coaches that have worked extremely hard,” and “great players.”

“I really, really, really love coaching young women, helping them get better.”

Stanford heads down the road to Stockton for a Tuesday contest at Pacific. A win there will give VanDerveer the all-time record for wins. The 6 p.m. PT game will be televised on ESPN2. Stanford was originally scheduled to play Pacific on Nov. 29 but the game was canceled due to a positive coronavirus test in the Tigers program.

On the weekend, Stanford competes in Los Angeles at USC and UCLA. Then the Cardinal can finally return home, complete the 10-day mandatory quarantine for travelers returning to Santa Clara County, and prepare for games at Arizona and Arizona State in early January.

Notes

  • All 12 players suiting up for the Cardinal this season are averaging at least minute minutes per game.
  • Seven players are averaging at least 7.0 points per game.
  • Stanford was picked to win the Pac-12 Conference for the first time since 2014.

 

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