Bentley coach Barbara Stevens wins No. 800

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WALTHAM, MASS. (AP) - Barbara Stevens of Division II Bentley University became the fifth coach in NCAA women’s basketball to reach 800 victories, just a few hours before Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer attempted to reach the milestone.

The Falcons beat C.W. Post 93-60 on Sunday, putting Stevens in exclusive company. The only other coaches to reach 800 wins are Tennessee’s Pat Summitt, former Texas coach Jody Conradt, Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer and Sylvia Hatchell of North Carolina.

The No. 3 Cardinal visited No. 6 Tennessee on Sunday night.

As the game ended, the crowd stood in tribute to the Stevens, who hugged her assistant coaches and then had confetti dumped on her by her players. The school just outside of Boston also had commemorative T-shirts made for the event.

“Our chairman of the board just told me that my bonus comes at 900, so I may have to hang around a little bit longer,” Stevens said. “It’s been a big buildup. It’s been something … that’s been the big elephant in the room that nobody really wants to talk about.

“It has really caused me to reflect upon my years as a coach and all the wonderful people that I’ve been associated with as players, my assistant coaches and obviously the institutions that I’ve coached at. I’m just really grateful right now. I’m lucky to be doing what I’m doing.”

Stevens is in her 25th season at Bentley, and has a record of 636-144 at the school. She’s won at least 19 games in each of her first 24 years, starting at Division III Clark before moving on to Massachusetts. She went 34-49 at the Division I school.

Stevens is a three-time Division II coach of the year.

The win was the seventh straight for the Falcons (7-1), who got 20 points and nine rebounds from Elise Caira against C.W. Post. Jacqui Brugliera had 18 points and 15 rebounds.

“We haven’t played in 10 days, and then we have this game and then we’re not going to play for another nine days,” Caira said. “We definitely were looking forward to this game, coach’s game, plus it’s a real important regional game for us, so all these things in one.

“I think we came out a little jittery, but definitely in the second half, I think, after we knew our strengths against this team, we were able to calm down and really put them away.”

Kim Brennan said that Stevens didn’t mention the milestone to her team before the game.

“Everybody knew about it but nobody wanted to say anything,” she said, “so we just focused more and tried to take it off of her so she could focus as well.”

Stevens admitted she was “incredibly” nervous before the game, and afterward couldn’t recall her first win at Clark in 1977.

“I remember my first year coaching at Clark. I can’t honestly say I remember the first win, but I keep in touch with a lot of those women that I coached,” she said. “We talk about those days very fondly, so it’s still right there.”

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