Stanford wins championship for all those teams that didn't

Full Screen
1 / 9

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Stanford players celebrate on the River Walk after defeating Arizona 54-53 in the championship game of the women's Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Sunday, April 4, 2021, at the Alamodome in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

STANFORD, Calif. – Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike had their chances at championships for Stanford that fell short before the sisters celebrated one together in San Antonio when the Cardinal finally won again.

Kate Starbird, Nicole Powell, Candice Wiggins and countless others were also part of talented Stanford teams that didn't end their seasons by cutting down the nets.

“It’s heartbreaking to go through that,” recalled Tara VanDerveer, who completed her 35th year coaching Stanford by capturing the program's first NCAA championship since 1992.

The Cardinal made 10 Final Four appearances only to come up empty-handed since their previous championship — twice finishing as runners-up before holding off Pac-12 rival Arizona 54-53 to end the nearly three-decade drought.

“It means everything,” Wiggins said of seeing Stanford come through this time.

VanDerveer and her emotionally spent team returned to Northern California on Monday for a victory parade through campus after capturing that elusive championship.

The Hall of Fame coach took time after winning to reflect on all of those special players, deep runs and near-misses. And how this talented team did it for the others who did their part to build the perennial powerhouse.

“I really feel like we won this for all the great players that have played at Stanford," VanDerveer said. "The former players would be so proud to be part of this team because of the resilience they’ve shown, because of the sisterhood that they represent.”