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Stanford's Tara VanDerveer takes shot at Cardinal men's team after NCAA Tournament loss to Ole Miss

By Zac Al-Khateeb,


The NCAA women's tournament saw one of its biggest upsets in years on Sunday as Stanford, the 1 seed in the Seattle 4 Region, lost 54-49 to 8-seed Ole Miss, ending an otherwise-successful season on a bitter note.

The Cardinal had hopes of achieving a Final Four run after a 28-5 season that saw them win the Pac-12 regular-season championship. Tara VanDerveer's team lost in the semifinal of the Pac-12 women's tournament to No. 19 UCLA, but quickly rebounded with a 92-49 thrashing of 16-seed Sacred Heart in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Cardinal's season came to a crashing halt on Sunday against the Rebels who never trailed in the victory. Stanford is the first 1 seed to miss the Sweet 16 since 2009, and only the fifth such team to exit the women's tournament before the second weekend.

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But VanDerveer refused to categorize the season as a failure:

“I'm not going to fall into the trap of saying, 'Wow, we had a horrible season,'” VanDerveer told reporters after the game. “I know that our men's team would be ecstatic to be playing two games in the NCAA Tournament, and (Stanford athletics director Bernard Muir) would be happy about that, too.”

It's uncertain why VanDerveer made her point using the men's teams as a direct comparison — even one that's stark in contrast between the men's and women's programs. Stanford on March 10 announced men's basketball coach Jerod Haase would return for another season in 2023-24, despite going 14-19 this year and missing the NCAA Tournament for the seventh straight year.

Haase has never led the Cardinal to a March Madness berth, and has only four seasons of .500 or better.

VanDerveer, who has led Stanford women's basketball since the 1985-86 season, is a five-time National Coach of the Year who has won three national championships — the most recent in 2021 — and led 13 Final Four runs on the women's side.

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Stanford shot 17 of 52 from the field on Sunday (32.6 percent) and was out-rebounded 44-39 by the Rebels. Cameron Brink led the team in points (20), rebounds (13) and blocks (seven) in the losing effort, while Haley Jones added 16 points and eight rebounds. They combined to make 12 of Stanford's shots, with only Hannah Jump (three) scoring more than one basket in the loss.

Regardless, VanDerveer said the experience was a net positive for her team, especially the freshmen. She was also complimentary of Brink and Jones' play, despite the loss:

“I think our team tried very hard to do the best we could today and I'm very proud of our team," VanDerveer said. "Just really sad that our season is over.”

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