‘The better the opponent, the better she plays’: Iowa’s Clark draws comparisons to Taurasi

SEATTLE — On the most important stage of her profession — for now — Iowa guard Caitlin Clark delivered a efficiency for the ages on Sunday because the Hawkeyes downed Louisville 97-83 to succeed in the ladies’s Ultimate 4, recording the first 40-point triple-double in an NCAA match recreation (males’s or girls’s) since assists turned an official stat in 1984.

“She is spectacular,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder stated. “I do not know the way else to explain what she does on the basketball courtroom. A 40-point triple-double in opposition to Louisville to go to the Ultimate 4? Are you kidding? I imply, it is mind-boggling.”

It was a displaying — 41 factors, 10 rebounds and 12 assists — that despatched ESPN Stats & Info scrambling to the file books and longtime observers of girls’s basketball going again many years to seek out comparisons. And it started ignominiously, with Louisville racing to an 8-0 lead earlier than Bluder known as an early timeout. Instantly after returning to the courtroom, Clark was known as for touring. Beginning there, Clark wrested management of the sport. Again-to-back layups adopted by a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer introduced the Hawkeyes inside one. Clark was solely warming up. She scored or assisted on all 25 of Iowa’s first-quarter factors and had reached 22 factors and eight assists by halftime.

“When did I do know she was going to have this sort of recreation?” Bluder requested. “I feel the second quarter appeared fairly spectacular to me. I believed the primary quarter she took a pair rushed [shot attempts]. However, , how will you argue with that when she has 41? Fairly onerous to argue with it.”

After the Cardinals rallied to inside one within the opening minute of the second half, having switched to a box-and-one protection to attempt to comprise Clark, she was on the heart of an 11-0 Iowa run. Louisville by no means critically threatened once more.

By the fourth quarter, the most important drama was whether or not Clark would safe the tenth rebound needed for her eleventh profession triple-double, together with six this season. The record-setting rebound got here with 58 seconds remaining, and Clark exited to a standing ovation from an Iowa-heavy crowd shortly thereafter.

Though she stated she did not fairly notice what she had achieved within the second, Clark made a beeline on the closing buzzer to safe the sport ball earlier than celebrating together with her teammates.

“I did need the sport ball, so I chucked it to my dad,” Clark stated afterward. “I hope [my parents] obtained out of the sector in time, so the NCAA cannot chase them down. However I instructed them to run. I will get it later on the lodge.”



Caitlin Clark fuels Iowa to Ultimate 4 with 41-point triple-double

Caitlin Clark scores 21 factors within the first half and Iowa would not look again because the Hawkeyes advance to the Ultimate 4.

Requested about her efficiency, Clark turned the eye to her teammates, highlighting the shot-making of McKenna Warnock (3-of-7 on 3-pointers) and Gabbie Marshall (3-of-9 on 3s) that helped produce her 12 assists.

“I simply thought I performed a reasonably balanced recreation,” was essentially the most Clark was prepared to confess. Bluder was happier to gush about her star participant.

“The higher the opponent, virtually the higher she performs,” Bluder stated. “It is like she locks in on these, after we’re enjoying in opposition to top-25 groups, and that is when she actually — her statistics go up much more, in opposition to nice opponents.

“And possibly it is as a result of she’s enjoying extra too. I imply, it is a risk. However I simply assume she’s essentially the most full participant. I imply, 12 assists — she’s going to be very mad at her turnovers. She’s going to be very mad about that.”

(Certainly, Clark muttered underneath her breath when she first sat down on the podium and noticed her closing turnover whole: 9, one shy of an ignominious quadruple-double.)

“The higher the opponent, virtually the higher she performs.”

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder on Caitlin Clark

In response to ESPN Stats & Information, there has solely been one triple-double in Division I girls’s basketball with extra factors than Clark’s 41: a 43-point efficiency by LSU‘s Cornelia Gayden to go together with 15 rebounds and 10 assists on Jan. 2, 1995, in opposition to TCU.

Between her personal scoring and assists, Clark was chargeable for 70 of the Hawkeyes’ 97 factors, matching her profession excessive in factors created, accorded to ESPN Stats & Information monitoring. Since 2000, solely Washington‘s Kelsey Plum in 2017 had recorded 30 factors and 10 assists in an NCAA match recreation, and Clark narrowly surpassed Plum’s 68 factors created in that efficiency.

That degree of offensive dominance stood out to ESPN broadcaster Debbie Antonelli, who was readily available when Sheryl Swoopes scored 47 factors within the 1993 NCAA championship recreation as Texas Tech defeated Ohio State.

“By no means seen a extra spectacular and decided effort to take a program to a Ultimate 4 with a 40-point triple double,” Antonelli instructed ESPN by way of textual content on Sunday. “Completely superb contemplating the defensive recreation plan, the scout and the stakes. It’s a Steph Curry-like present to observe Caitlin Clark compete.”

ESPN’s Rebecca Lobo, who broadcast Sunday’s recreation, pointed to the way in which Diana Taurasi lifted youthful UConn groups to nationwide titles in 2003 and 2004 (after future WNBA stars Sue Chicken, Swin Money, Asjha Jones and Tamika Williams graduated from this system in 2002) as a comparability for a way Clark lifted her staff.

It was throughout this stretch that UConn coach Geno Auriemma coined the reason for his staff’s success: “We’ve Diana and you do not.”

“To not take something away from her teammates, as a result of I feel Lisa Bluder has achieved a fantastic job placing the correct of gamers round her,” Lobo instructed ESPN, “however the way in which [Clark] elevates all people else on her staff in a approach that helps them win, my preliminary thought is I do not know that I’ve seen that since Diana Taurasi her final two years [at UConn].”

Maybe essentially the most troublesome problem for Clark after Sunday night time: The way to high her efficiency on Friday when Iowa performs within the Ultimate 4 for the primary time since 1993.

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