Jim Foster earns 900th career victory

Chattanooga coach Jim Foster talks with Aryanna Gilbert during a timeout Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, in the team's NCAA college basketball game against Western Carolina in Cullowhee, N.C. Foster won his 900th game as Chattanooga won 58-41. (Robin Rudd/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)

CULLOWHEE, N.C. (AP) — Chattanooga’s Jim Foster earned his 900th career victory to move into a tie for seventh place on the NCAA’s all-time list Thursday as the Mocs breezed to a 58-41 victory over Western Carolina.

Foster improved his career record to 900-342 in 40 seasons at St. Joseph’s, Vanderbilt, Ohio State and Chattanooga.

Former Texas coach Jody Conradt also has 900 career wins. The only women’s basketball coaches with more career victories are former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell, Bentley’s Barbara Stevens (Division II) and Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer.

“When you’re coaching the game, you’re not thinking about that stuff,” Foster said. “When the realization is in and the game is just about over, I was happy we got there. Now we go on to the business of trying to keep getting better.”

Chattanooga’s players showered Foster with silly string as he entered the locker room after the game. Foster, a wine aficionado, received a large bottle of Opus One from Chattanooga athletic director Mark Wharton.

Foster had downplayed the looming milestone because he didn’t want his team to get distracted. He maintained that approach even after reaching the 900 mark.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Foster said. “Too many people were talking about it. Secondly, I’m glad the team played well. We had some kids step up that we needed to step up. They figured it out. It’s just a nice night. It’s a good group of kids to do it with.”

In Foster’s first bid for his 900th win, Chattanooga lost 71-50 to Mercer on Saturday for the Mocs’ first Southern Conference home defeat since Feb. 14, 2011.

But the Mocs (14-8, 5-3) had no trouble getting Foster his 900th victory this time.

Keiana Gilbert scored 16 points and Arianne Whitaker added 15 points and 10 rebounds as Chattanooga never trailed. Judith Martin Ruiz had 12 points to lead Western Carolina (4-19, 0-8).

The 69-year-old Foster is the latest coach to reach a magic number in career victories this year. Auriemma, Hatchell and Stevens all earned their 1,000th wins this season.

Foster is the only Division I women’s coach to reach the NCAA Tournament or Top 25 at four different schools.

He went 248-126 at St. Joe’s, 256-99 at Vanderbilt and 279-82 at Ohio State. He is 117-35 at Chattanooga and has led the Mocs to Southern Conference regular-season and tournament titles each of his four seasons there.

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