4:00 PM ET, December 14, 2013
Maples Pavilion, Stanford, California
STANFORD, Calif. -- When Tara VanDerveer's mother showed up for a surprise visit, the Hall of Fame coach knew something might be happening at Stanford in her honor. Just more than two weeks later, VanDerveer finally got her special moment in front of the appreciative fans at Maples Pavilion.
Chiney Ogwumike had 19 points and seven rebounds and No. 6 Stanford celebrated VanDerveer's 900th victory back at home, beating 23rd-ranked Gonzaga 73-45 on Saturday. Ogwumike shot 8 for 16 and in the first game at Maples Pavilion since VanDerveer won her 900th game against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 27 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. VanDerveer became the fifth Division I coach to join the 900 club, and was honored after the game for her accomplishment in an on-court ceremony.
More from espnW
Stanford finally got around to celebrating Tara VanDerveer's 900th career victory Saturday. But the Cardinal's balanced effort in a victory over No. 23 Gonzaga gave the Hall of Fame coach even more to celebrate, writes Michelle Smith. Story
"It's cool to be a part of something so special," Ogwumike said. "She makes us better players. She's wise beyond her years."
A cheering crowd on its feet after the final buzzer, VanDerveer's players pulled on Cardinal red 900 T-shirts, while Stanford President John Hennessy and athletic director Bernard Muir presented the coach with a framed No. 900 white Stanford jersey.
"It's a little hard for me to wrap my head around 900," VanDerveer said over the public address system. "This is the only way I could get a Stanford jersey, as a coach. ... Let's get some more!"
Even after a lopsided loss, Gonzaga's coaches and players stayed on the court long enough to offer their applause. Coach Kelly Graves considered it an important moment for his young women.
"It's great that she was honored in front of all the fans here, the faithful," Graves said. "I wanted our team to sit out there and watch it and appreciate who she is and what she's done for our game. You think about 900 wins, that's 30 a year for 30 years, for crying out loud. We've won 30 one time. It's incredible what she's done."
VanDerveer was cheered when a 900 image featuring her photo appeared on the main scoreboard during an early timeout, while fans waved 900 posters throughout the arena. VanDerveer's mother, Rita, cheered her accomplishment, too. The top VanDerveer phrases also were read by players on the video board, along with a postgame video tribute.
"My mother pulled a fast on me and showed up," VanDerveer said. "I didn't think much about it. We were down in Mexico, I had kind of moved on -- 900's a lot of games. I'm kind of thinking back, 'How'd this happen?'"
This was a solid warmup for the Cardinal (8-1) as they returned for the first time following a 16-day break for final exams, a week before they host No. 3 Tennessee. Stanford first plays Monday at home against New Mexico. Sunny Greinacher scored 18 points to lead the West Coast Conference favorite Zags (8-2), who had their six-game winning streak snapped while losing a sixth straight in as many tries against perennial Pac-12 power Stanford.
Gonzaga was coming off impressive wins against Big Ten opponents Ohio State and Wisconsin. Kailee Johnson hit a pair of 3-pointers and added 11 points for Stanford in its seventh straight win since a 76-57 defeat at No. 1 Connecticut on Nov. 11.
Amber Orrange had 10 points and three assists. Gonzaga stayed close early and pulled to 6-6 before Stanford responded with a 15-3 spurt -- including 12 unanswered points -- and built a 21-8 lead at the 11:22 mark of the first half.
The Bulldogs hadn't lost since dropping their only other matchup against a ranked opponent this season, 82-78 at No. 11 Oklahoma on Nov. 14. Stanford shot 48.1 percent in the opening 20 minutes on the way to a 33-19 halftime lead and it was never close the rest of the way.
The Zags missed all nine of their first-half 3-point tries and 14 overall to shoot 34 percent. Stanford junior forward Taylor Greenfield made her season debut after missing the first eight games with a foot issue and she underwent treatment for the injury. Her minutes will be limited initially.
A "Welcome Back" video tribute was held for former Stanford star Nicole Powell, now a Zags assistant coach, before pregame introductions. She received a warm standing ovation and waved to the crowd.
Over the past week, VanDerveer showed her versatility. She helped Erica McCall prepare for a psychology final. The coach is eager to see her rotation come together now that the team is intact.
"This is the healthiest we've been," VanDerveer said. "We're a month away from knowing what our 8-9 player rotation is. We will never be what I call deli basketball, where people are going in and going out."
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||21-61 (.344)||27-60 (.450)|
|3P Made-Attempted||0-14 (.000)||8-16 (.500)|
|FT Made-Attempted||3-12 (.250)||11-17 (.647)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||18 (0/0)||13 (0/0)|