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Clark passes Maravich for Div. I scoring record

Written by 
Published in Breaking News
Sunday, 03 March 2024 18:25

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Caitlin Clark has joked about being nicknamed "Ponytail Pete" in recognition of how her game resembles that of "Pistol Pete" Maravich.

On Sunday in her last regular-season home game, the Iowa star passed the LSU and NBA legend for the most points scored by a Division I basketball player, men's or women's.

On senior day at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Clark entered the game against Big Ten regular-season champion Ohio State needing 18 points to pass Maravich, who scored 3,667 points in his three seasons at LSU from 1967 to 1970.

She did that in the first half and then finished the game with 35 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds in No. 6 Iowa's 93-83 victory over No. 2 Ohio State. It ended the 15-game winning streak of the Buckeyes, avenged Iowa's overtime loss at Ohio State in January and put Clark at 3,685 career points. The Hawkeyes (26-4) and Buckeyes (25-4) are the top two seeds in the Big Ten tournament and could meet again next week in Minneapolis.

"It's really crazy to think about," Clark said when asked about having scored more points than anyone who has played Division I basketball. "Honestly, if you would have told me that before my college career started, I would've laughed in your face and been like, 'No, you're insane.'

"I've always been able to score the ball, but I don't think people really understand how many amazing players have come before me and been able to score the ball and do it at such a high rate and for teams that are really, really good."

Clark got the record in a rather improbable way. After Clark missed a 3-pointer on her last shot attempt of the first half, the Hawkeyes had one more chance at the basket after an Ohio State miss. Iowa's Hannah Stuelke was fouled by Madison Greene, and then a technical foul was called on the Buckeyes' Cotie McMahon.

After Stuelke hit two free throws, Clark stepped to the line with 0.3 seconds left needing both free throws to reach 18 points. She hit both to pass Maravich and give Iowa a 48-39 lead at halftime.

"Those free throws are important, and she's very, very good [there]," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "Go back to fundamentals, everybody, right? I'm kind of glad it wasn't a logo 3."

It has been a record-setting season for Clark, who announced Thursday that she would not use the COVID-19 waiver from 2020-21 for a fifth season at Iowa and instead would enter the 2024 WNBA draft. That brought an extra poignancy to senior day, which she shared with teammates Kate Martin, Gabbie Marshall, Molly Davis and Sharon Goodman. Clark, a native of West Des Moines, has been a special favorite of Hawkeyes fans not just because of her great play, but because she is a native of the state who stayed "home" for college.

As with every Iowa home game this season and many road games, it was a sellout, with fans arriving early in the morning to take part in ESPN's "College GameDay." An extra surprise for Clark was former UConn and Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore, who was Clark's favorite player as a child, in attendance.

Until Thursday, it wasn't certain whether Clark would leave after four seasons or stay at Iowa to truly put most scoring and assists records out of reach with another college season.

But even in the standard career time, Clark has set several records:

  • On Dec. 6, she hit the 3,000-point mark at Iowa State.

  • On Feb. 11 at Nebraska, she reached the 1,000-assist mark, making her the first Division I women's player to have both 3,000 points and 1,000 assists. (She now has 1,058 career assists).

  • On Feb. 15 in Iowa City, Clark passed Washington's Kelsey Plum (3,527 points from 2013-17) for the NCAA women's scoring record with a 49-point performance that also set Iowa's single-game scoring record.

  • On Feb. 28 at Minnesota, Clark passed Kansas' Lynette Woodard for the major-college women's scoring record with a 33-point performance that was part of her 17th career triple-double. Woodard played just before the NCAA era, scoring 3,649 points from 1977 to 1981, when women's college sports was governed by the AIAW. Woodard was in attendance at Sunday's game and received a standing ovation from the crowd when she was introduced on the court during the first quarter.

  • Also in that victory over the Gophers, Clark hit eight 3-pointers, giving her 156 for the season, another Division I record. Clark's six triple-doubles with at least 30 points are also the most in Division I history.

Pearl Moore, who played at Francis Marion from 1975 to 1979, holds the AIAW small-college women's record with 3,884 points. But in terms of major college/Division I men or women, Clark now stands alone.

Maravich, Moore and Woodard all played before the 3-point line was implemented in college basketball. And Maravich's career was before freshman eligibility in college sports, so he was limited to 83 games over his three seasons. That said, he averaged 38.1 shots per game in his career. Entering Sunday, Clark has averaged 19.9 shots per game.

Clark is the overwhelming favorite to repeat as national player of the year and be the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever. She also is on track to lead the nation in scoring for the third time (as a freshman, sophomore and senior) and to lead the nation in scoring and assists for the second time (as a sophomore and senior). She would be the first player in Division I history to accomplish either.

The one down note for the Hawkeyes on Sunday was a first-half knee injury to starting guard Davis, who had to be carried off the court and went through the senior day ceremony in a wheelchair with her leg in a wrap. Bluder said she would not have an update on Davis until at least Monday. She entered Sunday's game averaging 6.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists, so if she's out for an extended time, it's a significant loss for Iowa.

For the most part, though, the Hawkeyes focused on all the positives of the day and kept reiterating that they have bigger goals ahead. Iowa has won the Big Ten tournament the past two seasons and went to the national championship game in 2023.

Clark said team objectives have been foremost in her mind, so she hasn't given all her records a lot of thought. Still, on a day with so much history being celebrated in the arena, Clark acknowledged she will one day reflect on all of her achievements.

"The biggest thing is I've just had fun, and I've loved every single second I've been here," Clark said. "There's been ups and downs, but the biggest part of my maturity and growth has been [being] able to handle that and balance everything that's going on around me.

"Just to be in the same realm with all these players who are so successful -- whether it's Pete or Kelsey Plum or Lynette Woodard -- hopefully somebody comes after me and breaks my records, and I can be there supporting them. That's what makes the game of basketball so fun. But yeah, it definitely will hit me at some point."

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