WALTHAM, Mass. — With her 1,000th victory in the books, Barbara Stevens gave a predictable answer when asked what’s next.
“The next one. Southern Connecticut (Saturday). That’s where our focus is and that’s where our preparation will be tomorrow,” said Stevens after Division II Bentley beat Adelphi 78-66 Wednesday night for her 1,000th win.
Stevens (1,000-275) joined North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell and Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma as coaches reaching the milestone this season — both Hatchell and Auriemma getting there on the same night earlier in the year. Tara VanDerveer got there last February.
Pat Summitt is the other women’s coach to get there, while two coaches on the men’s side — Mike Krzyzewski and Herb Magee — have also won 1,000.
“When people mention those peoples’ names, those coaches’ names, along with my name, it doesn’t register with me, honestly,” Stevens, 63, said. “I don’t know, maybe when I have a minute, somewhere down the road, to reflect, maybe I’ll think about it and I’ll say, ‘That was kinda cool.’
“Right now, we’re kind of a one game at a time — we have the (Bill) Belichick thing going on here. But honestly. I so enjoy coaching them. It’s kind of just on to the next one.”
With 17.5 seconds left in the game, the packed student section began a “Bar-bara Ste-vens chant.”
When the final buzzer sounded, one of the Bentley players dumped a Gatorade bucket — filled with paper — on the coach, and Stevens received a hug from Adelphi coach Missy Travesi.
Monica Viapiano, one of five Falcons in double figures in the win, was in charge of the bucket, saying she knew it had to contain paper because the men’s game followed the special event. The once-crowded gym was mostly empty for the men’s game, also against Adelphi.
Stevens said she wasn’t worried about liquid in the bucket “because they know better.”
Stevens was presented with a bouquet of flowers and posed with her team for pictures at center court. All fans in attendance received a “Stevens 1000” t-shirt. Later, she posed for a huge group picture, which included her mother, Betty.
In typical Stevens fashion, she said, “I have tried to avoid this whole situation like the plague — if I heard anybody talking about it I just walked the other way. I knew that this milestone was approaching and you can’t avoid it, but at the same time I didn’t want anything to distract me. I wanted to prepare my team to the best of its ability.
“I didn’t want the spotlight or the focus to be on anything else but them.”
The Falcons (17-1) had to defeat a nemesis to get Stevens to her milestone on the first try, as Adelphi (9-10) coming in with four straight wins over Bentley.
Stevens called timeout with her team down 22-13 and the Falcons responded by outscoring the Panthers 27-9, closing the first half on a 14-0 run to establish control.
Up by nine at the half, the Falcons saw a 12-point lead shaved to five but then finished the third quarter on a 9-1 run to lead by 13 after three.
The lead was 14 before Adelphi ran off seven straight points to cut its deficit in half with 3:39 remaining. The Panthers would get no closer as the Falcons went on a 10-0 run to put the game away.
Stevens also coached at Clark and Massachusetts, totaling eight years between the two before taking over at Bentley for the 1986-87 season. Her first team went 24-5 and the winning has not stopped.
Tonight's the night @BentleyWBball Coach Barbara Stevens goes for win! Here she is in 1988 receiving a @wbca1981 Victory Club award for win #200. We'll be cheering for you tonight Coach and team! @bentleyu @BentleyFalcons #bentleyarchives #NE10EMBRACE pic.twitter.com/OQjbNN8LMr— Bentley Library (@BentleyLibrary) January 17, 2018
The only coach to be named WBCA Division II National Coach of the Year five times, Stevens notched her first win Dec. 1, 1977. No. 100 came in the MAIAW Championships in 1982; No. 200 was recorded Feb. 6, 1988; No. 300 came March 1, 1991; 400 was Jan. 21, 1995; 500 came Nov. 20, 1998; 600 was Jan. 26, 2003; 700 came Jan. 5, 2006, 800 was earned Dec. 9, 2010; and 900 Jan. 25, 2014.
She has had 12 30-win seasons, Bentley won the Division II national title in 2014 (with a 35-0 record) and Stevens was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.