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Tara VanDerveer reunites with Team USA, Nneka Ogwumike

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Preseason No. 3 Stanford women’s basketball will host the USA Women’s National Team for their second of two exhibition games in preparation for the upcoming 2019-20 season. This will be the fourth meeting between the Cardinal and Team USA. The national team is 3-0 against Stanford and has compiled a 39-1 record against all NCAA competition. 

Headed by the legendary Tara VanDerveer, Stanford has had 31 consecutive winning seasons dating back to the 1987-88 season. Last year, the team finished second in the Pac-12 with a conference record 15-3 and a 31-5 record overall, and they made it to the Elite Eight. In 1995-96 VanDerveer coached Team USA to a 52-0 exhibition record and an Olympic gold medal with a perfect 8-0 run at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

“What a great opportunity to play against the best players in the world,” VanDerveer said. “We’re going to have to play hard.” 

The Cardinal appear poised for another great season. If the Cardinal can win 32 games this season, VanDerveer would move into first place for most wins by a college women’s head coach in NCAA history. 

The team returns eleven players, including senior guard DiJonai Carrington and junior guard Kiana Williams. Last season, Carrington averaged 5.1 rebounds and 14.0 points per game on 45.3% shooting. Williams averaged 3.3 assists and 14.3 points per game on 42.2% shooting. The team is also welcoming the nation’s second-ranked recruiting class — part of that recruiting class is the number-one overall recruit, guard Haley Jones.

“I think our upperclassmen have been so helpful with the freshmen,” VanDerveer said. “I am thrilled with how our freshman have done. I’m excited about our team, and I think we are going to keep on getting better.”

Forward Francesca Belibi is also part of the freshman class. During the summer, Belibi was a member of the 2019 USA U19 World Cup Team that finished with a 7-0 record and captured the gold medal. 

“To be able to play USA basketball is always just a huge honor no matter what level you’re playing,” Belibi said. “Being able to play with the USA team over the summer really helped build my confidence. It showed me some things I definitely need to work on.”

Nneka Ogwumike ’12 will be making her return to Stanford, but this time as an opposing player. Ogwumike played for the Cardinal from 2008 to 2012, leading the team to four straight Final Four appearances. She finished her collegiate career averaging 8.5 rebounds and 17.2 points per game on 58.3% shooting. Additionally, she is the fourth player in Stanford’s history to join the 2000 point/1000 rebound club and the second all-time leading scorer in the program’s history.

Tipoff is set for 4:00 p.m. on Saturday at Maples Pavilion.

Contact Gerzain Gutierrez at gerzain ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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