10:00 PM ET, December 28, 2007
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Tara VanDerveer walked away after her 700th win arm in arm with Candice Wiggins, the latest of so many stars to play for the successful Stanford coach.VanDerveer's milestone victory resembled numerous other methodical wins during her nearly three decades of coaching -- and it was fitting Wiggins led the way as usual for the second-ranked Cardinal.Wiggins had 14 points, five rebounds and three assists in limited time to help VanDerveer become the seventh Division I coach to reach the 700 mark and Stanford beat Washington State 105-47 in the Pac-10 opener for both teams Friday night.Freshman Kayla Pedersen, whose standout defense on Tennessee star Candace Parker last week led Stanford to an upset of the then-top-ranked Lady Vols, had 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists in Stanford's eighth straight victory.Ever humble, VanDerveer said of 700: "I don't really think about it. I just think about each game."Then she went on: "It means you've had a lot of great players. You don't win games as a coach. Players execute game plans. When you have players like Candice and Kayla, how can you not win? It was fun."The Cardinal (11-1, 1-0 Pac-10) are off to their best start since beginning the 2002-03 season 15-1 -- and VanDerveer was honored with a video tribute after the final buzzer sounded.She high-fived each of her players then walked to midcourt to accept a bouquet of red and white roses and a commemorative ball from athletic director Bob Bowlsby. VanDerveer then returned to the bench and greeted each of her coaches with a round of high-fives."I was afraid to look up there. I know they had some old pictures up there. It meant a lot to me that they did that for me," VanDerveer said. "It's not about me and it's not about numbers for me."Yet the numbers are impossible to ignore.VanDerveer is 700-185, including 548-134 in 22 seasons on The Farm. She spent the first two of her 29 years as a head coach at Idaho starting in 1978-79 followed by five seasons at Ohio State.VanDerveer also took the 1995-96 season off to coach the U.S. team to a gold medal in the Atlanta Summer Olympics."It was so cool and it was special for all of us," Wiggins said her coach's latest accomplishment. "Growing up on the West Coast, I was 9 years old watching the games in Atlanta. It brought back memories. Tara says it's all about the players, but it's no secret why this program is so successful: It's her, year in and year out."Wiggins was named Pac-10 Player of the Week each of the past two weeks, and had another big game as she began what will be her final time through the conference schedule. A two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year, the senior guard shot 4-for-6 and converted all five of her free throws.Alexa Price scored nine points for the overmatched Cougars (3-9, 0-1), who held tough for much of the first half before Stanford pulled away for its most lopsided win ever in the series. Washington State was outrebounded 50-17 and struggled to contain the Cardinal with its zone defense."We looked like we were allergic to rebounds and it was very costly in this game," Cougars coach June Daugherty said.Stanford scored its most points since a 109-58 win against Pacific on Dec. 1, 2005.Jillian Harmon earned her second straight start on the wing for Stanford, giving the team more size and a strong rebounding presence. Harmon's basket with 10:37 to play put the Cardinal ahead by 40, 74-34. Harmon finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists, Cissy Pierce scored 16 points all in the second half and Jeanette Pohlen added 14 points and seven boards.Pedersen scored 10 of her points during a 22-5 run by Stanford over the final 6:42 of the first half after the Cougars cut the Cardinal's lead to seven points, and they led 48-24 at the break.Stanford has never lost in 45 meetings against Washington State, including 23 on its home floor at Maples Pavilion.The Cardinal made 17 of 19 free throws and overcame a slow start for an easy win, the team's first since an overtime upset of Tennessee on Dec. 22. The Cardinal moved up three spots in this week's poll for their highest ranking since spending three weeks in the No. 1 spot in March 2005.Daugherty, meanwhile, moved across the state of Washington to coach the Cougars after leading the Huskies in Seattle the past 11 years, and this was her first conference game with her new team.Afterward, Daugherty thanked VanDerveer for being supportive during her dismissal from Washington and heart attack that followed in May -- and for being a great example in the women's game."I just want to congratulate Tara VanDerveer on 700," Daugherty said. "That's an amazing feat. What we have to do is have someone from Stanford check her resume. She had to have started when she was 12. ... It's not only great for Stanford and women's basketball but also for the Pac-10."
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