Caitlin Clark Breaks NCAA Women’s Basketball Scoring Record: 3,528 Career Points

Caitlin Clark Breaks NCAA Women’s Basketball Scoring Record: 3,528 Career Points

During Caitlin Clark’s senior year, making history has nearly become second nature. With fierce Hawkeyes supporters cheering her on both at home and away, she has outmuscled offensive marks with the same distinct style that enables her to pull up effortlessly from almost half court. Against Michigan on Thursday, Clark broke her biggest record to date. Appropriately, the play that solidified her reputation occurred to the left of the mid-court emblem. You were all aware that I intended to record a logo-3. Come on, now,” Clark remarked later.

She quickly cemented her position in history. After Clark had forced the ball up in transition on Iowa’s fifth possession, with 7:48 remaining in the first quarter, she rose from a spot that only she seemed to be able to. With 3,528 points overall, she became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball after making the deep 3-pointer. Kelsey Plum, a previous standout player for Washington who scored 3,527 points from 2013 to 2017, was dethroned by Clark.

As Clark turned to face the sold-out fans and soaked up the occasion, flexing and frolicking her way down the sideline, euphoria broke out inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Shortly after, Iowa took a timeout, but not before Clark, the recently minted record holder, had to defend for a possession. However, Clark’s teammates surrounded their star during the break. Coach Lisa Bluder of the Hawkeyes planted a kiss on Clark’s left cheek while the crowd gave the all-time great the proper standing ovation. Clark remarked, “I’m just thankful above all else.” “More than anything, I will just be proud of the way I worked for this.”

Clark had to score just 8 points to overtake Plum after his 31-point performance on Sunday against Nebraska. Clark was expected to do better than that going into Thursday night. What was more unexpected, though, was that in the Hawkeyes’ 106-89 victory, Clark ended up scoring a career-high and record-setting 49 points for the Iowa program. “She chose an excellent night to carry it out,” Bluder later told NBC Sports. “What she’s done to improve women’s basketball nationally and our program is amazing.”

In the last quarter of the surprising defeat to the Cornhuskers on Sunday, Clark was held scoreless. She promised that Thursday’s beginning and end will differ greatly. Thousands of supporters, many of whom arrived hours in advance, took out their phones to record the introductions of Clark during Iowa’s starting lineups. Hopefully, nobody missed the headline because they were running late. Iowa’s opening possession ended with a layup from Clark, and on their second possession, he drained a 3-point shot. That’s when she stated she started to feel a little fatigued and had to catch her breath. But by the Hawkeyes’ fifth offensive play, she was prepared to pass Plum. In the end, she scored half of her prior career high of 46 points in the first quarter—23.

When Clark and Michigan faced off in January 2023, she ended with a combined score of 28. She proved why the Wolverines are one of her favorite opponents once more at halftime this time. She averaged 34.8 points in four previous encounters against them, which was the highest of any opponent she had faced at least three times. But Michigan isn’t the only team Clark has outmatched. She is scoring at least 20 points per game on average against all of her conference opponents, demonstrating remarkable splendor and consistency. She also seems to light up every opponent she plays against outside of conferences.Clark has only scored less than 10 points once in her 126 Iowa games, and it was in her 10th game as a freshman against Northwestern, when she finished with 8 points. With this, she has 3,569 career points.

There has been a noticeable difference since Clark’s first game with the Hawkeyes. She scored 27 points in 26 minutes during her debut. Despite having her first 3-pointer blocked, Clark has made over 450 3-pointers in her career, many of them from lengths that had never been attempted in the women’s game. She made history earlier this season against Michigan State by becoming the first female Division I player in 25 years to score 40 points and nail a game-winning buzzer-beater in the same game. She also elevated for the game’s final shot, placing both feet on the midcourt Hawkeyes logo.
After the victory, Bluder remarked, “Everyone knows that Caitlin has ice in her veins.”

For four seasons, Clark’s offensive arsenal has dazzled Hawkeyes supporters and even casual basketball observers with his relentless barrage of step-back jumpers from the wings, leaning off-the-dribble pull-ups from the top of the arc, slithering dribbling moves that create layup opportunities, precise no-look passing, and, of course, deep 3-pointers. However, Clark’s colleagues have rarely been taken aback during her seminars.

Sixth-year senior forward Kate Martin stated, “At this point, nothing surprises me.” In March of last year, Clark’s historic 41-point, 12-assist, 10-rebound triple-double in an NCAA Tournament game helped the Hawkeyes advance to their first Final Four since 1993.

In addition to becoming the only player in NCAA history to score a 40-point triple-double, Clark is the only player to ever record 3,000 points, 750 rebounds, and 750 assists. She had more 30-point games than any player in the previous 25 years while leading Iowa to two conference titles. She broke through as Iowa’s all-time top scorer in November, and by late January, she had also become the Big Ten’s all-time leader. On Thursday, she surpassed former Hawkeye center Megan Gustafson’s 48-point performance in March 2018 with her program single-game record of 49 points.

“I think the coolest thing is just the names that I get to be around,” Clark said after setting the Big Ten record in a January victory at Northwestern. “Those are people that I grew up watching, especially Brittney Griner, Kelsey Mitchell, those are really, really great players, people that are still playing our game at the very highest level, people that you watch night in and night out. So it’s just special for me to be in the same area as them, and obviously, I have a lot of really good teammates that have allowed me to do my thing.”

Early in February, Plum expressed her excitement over Clark surpassing her in the record book.

Plum added, “To be really honest, I’m really grateful to pass that baton on.” “So glad for her.”

Despite having already achieved the NCAA record, Clark has not yet surpassed Lynette Woodard’s record of 3,649 points for a women’s college basketball career, which was set in the AIAW period in 1981 at Kansas. By the time the Big Ten tournament begins in early March, Clark will probably have passed Woodard if she continues to score 32.1 points per game on average. Before the season is out, Clark has the opportunity to surpass Pete Maravich’s 3,667 point men’s and women’s all-time NCAA scoring record, even though it won’t be recorded in the record book.

This season, there has been a frenzy of amazement wherever Clark goes. The Hawkeyes’ exhibition game in October at Kinnick Stadium had the largest crowd ever for a women’s basketball game—55,646 spectators. Hours in advance, Iowa fans and opponents’ supporters wait side by side outside arenas to watch her warm up. With Iowa’s neutral site games at a Thanksgiving tournament being the only exception, thirty of the team’s thirty regular-season games are either sold out or have set records for women’s basketball arena attendance.

Clark has also resulted in phenomenal TV viewership. One recent Saturday primetime game against Maryland, for example, drew an average viewership of almost 1.5 million, making it the most viewed women’s college basketball game on Fox history. The overtime thriller between Iowa and Ohio State in late January attracted an average of about 2 million people on NBC and Peacock, making it the highest watched women’s college basketball regular-season game on any American network in over ten years. With an average of 6.5 million viewers, last year’s Final Four, which included the Hawkeyes, was ESPN’s most watched Final Four weekend ever. 9.9 million people watched the Iowa vs. LSU national championship, making it the most watched NCAA women’s basketball game history and quadruple the viewership from 2022.

Iowa had an on-court celebration for the outstanding player following their victory over Michigan. She will shortly have her jersey retired in the Carver-Hawkeye rafters. Clark’s teammates wore T-shirts with his number 22, along with the slogan “you break it, you own it,” on the front. They handed out copies of the Des Moines Register with the article “Unmatched.” A film montage that included testimonials from family, coaches, and current and former teammates was shown in the arena. Additionally, a memorial ball was given out. At one point, Clark was serenaded with chants of “one more year” by the sold-out audience, who had not departed.

Clark will have to make a decision on it, of course. The 6-foot senior will continue to add points to her total over the remainder of the season, but she will then have to make a choice that will affect her future: Either take advantage of a COVID-19 eligibility regulation to return to Iowa for a fifth season, or enter the WNBA Draft, where she is the presumptive No. 1 pick. She will compete against the greatest in the world and launch another possibly historic career if she chooses the former. In the record book, she will set herself apart from her colleagues even further if she goes with the latter option.

Sanchita Patil

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