Forcing Angel Reese Out of Elite 8 With 41 Point Masterclass, Why Caitlin Clark Is Destined for the NCAA Crown This Season

Published 04/01/2024, 10:07 PM EDT

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The Iowa Hawkeyes have gotten their revenge with a win over Angel Reese’s LSU as Caitlin Clark stole the spotlight yet again. In an enticing Elite Eight matchup, the Hawkeyes took down the defending champions 94-87 and made their way into the Final Four. After LSU completed its quest for a National Championship last season, Iowa had to wait for a year to settle the scores. However, this time, they were much stronger and destructive.

While the entire group seems to have improved their game this year, what Clark has achieved is simply phenomenal. Entering the Final Four with a win, where she recorded a double-double with 41 points and 12 assists and also landed 7 rebounds, she is showing the world why she is the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer. She has, more so, given many a glimpse of why she is fated to be a National Champion.

How did Caitlin Clark script her comeback since the National Championship Game disappointment?

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Even after winning the National Player Of the Year award last year, Clark didn’t have the perfect season. Mostly because the chance to have a collective glory outweighed her individual accomplishment. Nonetheless, she decided to change that the moment she stepped on the court as a senior. Picking up from where she left last season, she gave a preview of what was to come in the opening game when Iowa took on Fairleigh Dickinson.

She led the Hawkeyes’ onslaught and registered a double-double comprising 28 points and 10 assists. Following this, in the next 30 games, there was just once (against Penn State) when the 6 ft guard didn’t manage to lead the scoresheet for her team. Moreover, on 18 occasions, Clark ended the outing by bagging a double-double.

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Consequently, she was bestowed with luminary accolades along the way. She shared the Sporting News Athlete Of The Year honor with her adversary, Angel Reese, during Iowa’s conference campaign. Additionally, the iconic No.22 made her final season with the Hawkeyes more historic by conquering Kelsey Plum’s All-time women’s basketball scoring record in a 106-89 win against Michigan. In addition to this, her 49 points in the game also surpassed Iowa’s single-game scoring mark.

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Unsurprisingly, Clark didn’t waste much time in going after the record that etched her name into the Legion of the Greats. In her final conference appearance against the Buckeyes, Caitlin Clark surpassed Pete Maravich’s tally of 3,667 career points. That was not all from this talented point guard from Des Moines, as she has had a lot more to offer in her post-season campaign.

Clark’s supremacy in knockouts

Even though the Hawkeyes weren’t able to grab the regular season title, Caitlin Clark made sure that the Big Ten Championships had Iowa’s name on it. In the three games that she featured in, Clark was able to end the night with a double-double. With a stellar average of 28.6 points in three games, she led the 2023 NCAA finalists to their 6th conference honors. After this, the Hawkeyes were placed in a highly competitive Albany 2 region on Selection Sunday.

Read More- ⁠Is Caitlin Clark the Best Passer in the NCAA? Breaking Multiple Scoring Records, Explore Iowa Star’s Assist Prowess

Iowa had to face Holy Cross, West Virginia, and Colorado as their opening challengers. In these three games, the 22-year-old unleashed her inner beast, upgraded her game to the next level, and scored 29.3 points per game. Further, she also showcased her superb playmaking abilities by distributing assists at the rate of 9.3 per game. The program record for an NCAA game (15 assists) appeared in the regional semi-finals against the Lady Buffs. Still, she was able to save her best for last in Iowa’s redemption game against LSU.

A performance for the ages

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The much-awaited LSU-Iowa game concluded monumentally for Iowa’s stellar athlete. Caitlin Clark made full use of her 40 minutes on the court and landed a phenomenal exhibition. Not only did she secure 41 points, but she made 13 of her 29 attempts from the field. In addition to this, some fantastic shooting from beyond the arc meant that she ended up burying 45% of her 20 three-point attempts.

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Also, her 7th three went past Oklahoma’s Taylor Robertson record of 538, making her first in the all-time NCAA women’s 3-point list. Then her 9th and final one tied her with Connecticut’s Kia Nurse (2017) and Purdue’s Courtney Moses (2012) in the all-time record for 3s in a single NCAA women’s tournament game. In addition to this, her assist-to-turnover ratio of 12:5 resulted in her being the best among all the players involved from both sides.

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The statement that Caitlin Clark made through this performance is loud and clear. She is not in the NCAA tournament this year to take part but to take over. With just two more games to go, she has a chance to achieve immortality by getting the Hawkeyes their first-ever national championship. Since she is so used to making history already, this won’t be a feat beyond her. What do you think?

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Written by:

Shahryar Fazal

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Shahryar Fazal is a senior NBA writer at EssentiallySports. His specialisation lies in his scrupulous Live Coverage of the events like NCAA and WNBA tournaments. A former sportsman himself, Shahryar used to contribute stories for publishing houses like TOI before taking up American sports as his field of interest.
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Edited by:

Jayant Chhabra