Caitlin Clark sets NCAA women's basketball scoring record with 3,528 career points

Making history has become almost routine through Caitlin Clark's senior year. With rabid Hawkeyes fans rooting for him at home and on the road, he's thrown past offensive markers with the same unique flair that creates the ability to pull up from almost half court with ease. Clark set his most important feat against Michigan on Thursday. Fittingly, the shot that cemented her status came just to the left of the mid-court logo. “You all know I'm going to shoot Logo-3 for the record. Come on now,” Clarke said later.

It didn't take long to cement her place in history. On Iowa's fifth possession, with 7:48 on the first-quarter clock, Clark pulled the ball up and she was the only one to lift from the high post. She converted a deep 3-pointer and became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women's basketball with 3,528 total points. Clark beat former Washington star Kelsey Blum, who scored 3,527 points from 2013 to 2017.

As Clark turned to the sold-out crowd inside the Carver-Hawkeye Arena, she took in the moment, beaming and cheering her way through. Iowa called a timeout moments later — not before Clark had to defend for a possession that surprised the newly minted rookie. At the stoppage, Clarke's teammates mobbed their star. Hawkeyes coach Lisa Bluder planted a kiss on Clark's left cheek and the fans showered the all-time great with the perfect cheer. “I'm just grateful more than anything,” Clark said. “More than anything I will be proud and proud of the way I worked for this.”

After scoring 31 points against Nebraska on Sunday, Clark needed 8 points to pass Plum. Entering Thursday night, Clarke expects to exceed that. Most unexpectedly, however, Clark eventually scored a career-high and Iowa-program-record 49 points in the Hawkeyes' 106-89 win. “She picked a great night to do it,” Bluder told NBC Sports. “What he has done to advance our program and women's basketball nationally is amazing.”

Clark was held scoreless in the final quarter of Sunday's loss to the Cornhuskers. She made sure Thursday's start was very different from that ending. As Clark was introduced during Iowa's opening lineup, thousands of fans — many of whom had shown up hours earlier — pulled out their phones to record the introductions. We hope no one is late or missed the topic. Clark hit a layup on Iowa's first drive and a 3-pointer on its second possession. Then she said that she was a little tired and needed to take a breather. However, by the Hawkeyes' fifth offensive possession, she was ready to pounce. He ended up scoring 23 first-quarter points, half of his previous career high (46).

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The last time Clark faced Michigan in January 2023, he finished with 28. This time, he got it at halftime, showing once again why the Wolverines are among his favorite opponents. In the four previous meetings against them, he averaged 34.8 points, more than any opponent he played at least three times. However, it wasn't just Michigan that Clark overestimated. With great bigness and consistency, he averages at least 20 points per game against each of his conference opponents. She lights up every opponent she faces in conference play. Clark has scored fewer than 10 points just once in his 126 Iowa games — an 8-pointer against Northwestern in his 10th game as a freshman. He now has 3,569 points in his career.

From his first game with the Hawkeyes, Clark's impact was evident. Scored 27 points in 26 minutes in his first game. Although his first 3-pointer was blocked, Clark has hit more than 450 3s throughout his career. Earlier this season against Michigan State, she became the first Division I women's player in 25 years to score 40 points and hit a game-winning buzzer-beater in the same contest, lofting the night's deciding shot with both feet touching midcourt. Hawkeyes logo.

“Kaitlyn has ice in her veins and everyone knows that,” Bluder said following the win.

For four seasons, Clark's offensive arsenal — lean off-the-dribble pull-ups from the top of the arc, step-back jumpers from the wings, slithering dribbling moves that create opportunities for layups, precise no-look passing. , of course, deep 3s — surprised Hawkeyes fans and casual observers of the game. Yet during Clark's master classes, her peers were occasionally shocked.

“Nothing surprises me at this point,” sixth-year senior forward Kate Martin said after Clark posted her first 41-point, 12-assist, 10-rebound triple-double in an NCAA Tournament game last March. Moved the Hawkeyes to their first Final Four since 1993.

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Beyond recording the only 40-point triple-double in NCAA history, Clark is the only player to record 3,000 points, 750 rebounds and 750 assists in an NCAA era. En route to leading Iowa to two conference championships, he had more 30-point games than any player in the past 25 years. In November, he became Iowa's all-time leading scorer and in late January, the Big Ten's all-time leader. Her program single-game record 49 points on Thursday surpassed former Hockey center Megan Gustafson's 48-point outing in March 2018.

“I think the best thing is the names that I can be around,” Clark said after setting the Big Ten record in a win at Northwestern in January. “They're guys that I grew up watching, especially Brittney Griner, Kelsey Mitchell, they're really great players, people who are still playing our game at the highest level. , those whom you see day and night. So it's really special for me to be in the same area as them, and obviously, I have a lot of good teammates that let me do my thing.

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Plum said in early February that Clark was excited to move him into the record books.

“Honestly, I'm very grateful to pass that baton,” Plum said. “She's so happy.”

Although Clark now holds the NCAA record, she has yet to break Lynette Woodard's women's college basketball career scoring record of 3,649, set at Kansas in 1981 during the AIAW era. If Clark maintains his current scoring average of 32.1 points per game, he will surpass Woodard at the start of the Big Ten Tournament in early March. While it may not appear in the record books, Clark could pass Pete Maravich's all-time NCAA scoring record — men's or women's — of 3,667 points before the season ends.

Wherever Clark went this season, the excitement of the surprise continued. In October, the Hawkeyes played an exhibition game at Kinnick Stadium, which drew 55,646 fans. On the road, fans of opponents line up with Iowa fanatics hours in advance, waiting to enter the stadiums to witness his warm-up. Of Iowa's 32 regular-season games, 30 sold out or set arena attendance records for women's basketball — the only exception being Iowa's neutral games at Thanksgiving.

Clark has also generated growing television ratings. For example, a recent Saturday primetime matchup against Maryland averaged more than 1.5 million viewers, the most-watched women's college basketball game televised on Fox. Iowa's overtime thriller against Ohio State in late January averaged 2 million viewers across NBC and the Peacock, the most-watched regular-season women's college basketball game on any US network in more than a decade. Last year's Final Four featuring the Hawkeyes averaged 6.5 million viewers over ESPN's Final Four weekend. The national championship between Iowa and LSU drew 9.9 million viewers, doubling from 2022 and the most-watched NCAA women's basketball game ever.

After defeating Michigan, Iowa held a court ceremony for the star, who will soon retire his jersey in the Carver-hockey rafters. Clarke's teammates wore t-shirts with Clarke's number on the front and the back. 22 also wore the tagline “You break it, you own it”. Copies of the Des Moines Register were distributed with the heading “Irrelevant.” A video tribute aired in the arena featuring tributes from family, coaches and teammates — past and present. A commemorative ball was also presented. At one point, the sold-out crowd — no one left — serenaded Clark with chants of “one more year.”

An examination of that awaits the clerk. While she will add to her scoring total throughout the season, the 6-foot senior will face a decision that will shape her future: Enter the upcoming WNBA draft, where she is the presumptive No. 1 pick, or return to Iowa for a fifth season, taking advantage of the Covid-19 eligibility rule. If he picks first, he will face the best competition in the world and embark on another historic career. If she chooses the latter, she will create even more distance from her peers in the record books.

No matter what decision she makes, she will be mad.

“I think she's the best basketball player in America,” Bluder said after Clark and the Hawkeyes upset previously undefeated South Carolina in last year's Final Four. “I don't think there's anyone like her.”

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(Photo: Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

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