No. 1 Stanford moves VanDerveer one victory from wins record

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports Images
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BERKELEY, Calif. — Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer tied the late Pat Summitt as winningest women’s coach in NCAA Division I basketball history with 1,098 on Sunday night as the top-ranked Cardinal beat rival California 83-38.

Francesca Belibi finally dunked in a game as she typically does during every warmup and scored 14 points for Stanford, which played its first game since taking over the No. 1 spot in the AP rankings.

VanDerveer, the Hall of Fame coach in her 35th season on The Farm, is poised to pass Summitt on Tuesday night at Pacific if all goes as planned — the teams were forced to cancel their first scheduled game Nov. 29 because of a positive coronavirus test in the Tigers program.

When Cal public address announcer Matt Foley congratulated VanDerveer’s achievement after the final buzzer and Stanford’s players clapped, VanDerveer shooed them toward the locker room.

Belibi stole the ball from Ornela Muca near the opposite baseline then drove end to end for a pretty one-handed slam 51 seconds before halftime to become the eighth women’s player to dunk in a game. Belibi is the first woman to dunk in a game since former Baylor star Brittney Griner had a trio of slams against Florida State in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

“Y’all might want to check this out,” former Stanford star Chiney Ogwumike, now with the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, posted on Twitter with a link to the video.

Freshman Cameron Brink contributed 16 points and seven rebounds for the Cardinal (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) while Haley Jones had eight points, six rebounds and four assists. Jones came in averaging 23.3 points and 10.3 rebounds so far into her sophomore season after playing only 18 games as a freshman before a season-ending right knee injury.

Stanford returned to the Bay Area from an extended Las Vegas road trip made necessary by the COVID-19 restrictions on sporting events and practices in Santa Clara County. The Cardinal won at UNLV and beat Washington in Las Vegas last weekend.

Fatou Samb had 10 points and freshman Michelle Onyiah had nine points and 11 rebounds for Cal (0-5, 0-2), coached by former Stanford star Charmin Smith in her second season at Berkeley.

Stanford held its first three opponents to 26.8% shooting, then Cal shot only 23% and committed 33 turnovers.

Before Stanford swept both meetings in 2019-20, the schools had split the previous two season series.

The teams formed a circle before tipoff to represent working together to support inclusion, being kind to your neighbor and ending racial injustices.

Smith led the Cardinal to three Final Four appearances during her decorated career on The Farm, where she returned as a member of VanDerveer’s staff for three seasons before leaving for Berkeley in 2007.