Clark cleans up as Iowa advances
A RECORD-SETTING performance from Iowa Hawkeyes star Caitlin Clark was enough to see the team past the Louisville Cardinals in the Elite Eight stage of the NCAAW tournament on Monday.
The Hawkeyes were expected to win given they were ranked three seeds higher than the opposition coming into the game. However, this tournament has shown that anything can happen, so the result was far from secure.
Iowa edged in front after a tense first half, taking a five-point lead into the main change with the game still up for grabs. However, the third quarter ended up being the deciding period of the match, as the Hawkeyes ended up breaking away on the scoreboard with a 30-16 term, and although the Cardinals performed much stronger in the fourth, the damage was done as Iowa claimed a 97-83 triumph.
The biggest headline to come out of the match was the performance of Clark, who dominated the match to post a historic statline and have a monstrous impact on the game. Already an established star of the sport, Clark etched her name in the books with a magnificent showing that was truly reflective of her talent.
Louisville Cardinals (83) def. by Iowa Hawkeyes (97)
Caitlin Clark – 41 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, three steals
You would be excused for thinking the statline above was a typo, but Clark’s performance was simply that good.
She shot 11/19 from the field, 8/14 from behind the arc (which is remarkable) and 11/13 from the charity stripe in a marvellous display of efficiency.
Her start wasn’t exactly ideal, being called for a travel early in the match as the Louisville jumped out to a fast start. However, Clark began to swing the momentum back in Iowa’s favour, two consecutive layups were followed by a catch and shoot three and suddenly the Hawkeyes were back on track.
The 21-year-old remarkably scored or assisted on all of her team’s 25 first quarter points, and it was evident she was in for a big night. That trend continued into the second, and by half time, Clark had a statline of 22 points and eight assists.
She terrorized the defence from behind the arc, using her strong dribble skills to create separation laterally, and nail the step-back jumper from behind the arc. It is her signature move and she continued to hurt the defence from well outside the arc.
After halftime, the defence switched to a box-and-one coverage to try and contain Clark, but it was to no avail, as she still had a big impact on the contest.
Clark has the ability to make pinpoint passes with little space given, and she sliced open the defence with penetrating dishes, making life easier for her teammates as they often converted the good looks given.
Heading into the final quarter, the biggest question was whether she would get the required rebounds, and with 58 seconds remaining, she pulled down her 10th board of the match. It was the 11th triple double of her career, and the first ever 40-point triple double in NCAAW history.