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Caitlin Clark claims NCAA women's basketball scoring title

The basketball sensation scored the first eight points of Thursday's game for Iowa, enough to break the scoring record of 3,527.
Caitlin Clark claims NCAA women's basketball scoring title
Posted at 7:25 PM, Feb 15, 2024

During a sold-out home game, Caitlin Clark claimed the all-time NCAA women's basketball scoring title when she made a long 3-pointer in the first quarter of the game.

"I don't know if you could script it any better," Clark said. "You all knew I was going to shoot the logo 3 for the record."

The University of Iowa sensation went into the game against Michigan Thursday with 3,520 points, needing only eight more to break the 3,527-point scoring record set by the University of Washington's Kelly Plum in 2017.

It took Plum 139 games to nab the record, and it took less than three minutes into Clark's 126th game for her to break it.

Clark finished the night with 49 points, a career-best that also beat the school's single-game scoring record.  She also set the NCAA women's first-quarter scoring record with 23 points. 

Iowa would end up winning the game 106-89. 

Clark is the reigning National Player of the Year and is a favorite to win the award again this season. The superstar dominates on the court and is known for her half-court shots, three-pointers, and flashy passing skills. Her 8.3 assists per game lead the nation and she is one of six NCAA women's Division I basketball players ever to amass 1,000 career assists.

Now, with 3,569 career points, she's just 80 points away from beating University of Kansas star player Lynette Woodard's end-of-career record of 3,649 points. Ending in 1981, her record predates the NCAA's sponsoring of women's sports, but even though the number isn't recognized in the body's official record books, many still point to it as a milestone.

Clark is also on pace to beat LSU star Pete Maravich's 3,667-point record. He snatched the men's Division I record in 1970 after three seasons. At her current season pace of 32.7 points per game, she could take the title in four more games, which would be Iowa's March 2 game against Ohio State.

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At just 22-years-old, Clark has captivated the nation and become the face of women's college basketball. Her combination of confidence, passion and skill on the court is selling out arenas and drawing record-breaking attendance and TV viewership.

"I've never been a been a basketball fan myself, much less a college basketball fan and I went to my first game," said Samuel Benson, store manager of Raygun Shirts in Iowa City.

"She's fascinating, there is no other player like her, men's or women's," Tabitha, an Iowa fan said during a game in Iowa City against Penn State.

Tickets for the game Thursday averaged $394, breaking the record for the most expensive women’s basketball game ticket, according to TickPick. On average, tickets for a women’s basketball game at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena run between $10 to $15.

During away games, fans have waited in line for hours to buy a ticket to catch Clark in action.

"We were in Wisconsin, it was 28 degrees back in December, and it was a 1 p.m. game on a Sunday afternoon, they started to line up at 7:30 a.m.," Iowa women's basketball play-by-play announcer Rob Brooks said.

The dynamic skills Clark brings to the court have elevated women's basketball to unprecedented levels and ignited a new excitement for women's sports. In the crowd, most fans focused intently on the six-foot-tall senior wearing number 22, letting out a deafening roar each time she scored.

Julie Thrower bought tickets to watch Clark play for her daughter's birthday. She recorded the moment her daughter opened Clark's cereal box with tickets to the game. Kylene Thrower, a basketball player herself, screamed in disbelief that she was going to attend a game the night of her 12th birthday.

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"She's such a role model and I'm excited for her to be able to watch someone of that caliber play ball and play it the right way," Julie Thrower said.

Clark's plays are attracting fans of all generations. Janet McEvoy, 77, Willie McDonell, 82, and Lynn Decker, 72, attended a game together wearing homemade scarfs. McDonell said she was prepared to buy a ticket for $1,000 to watch Clark play, but McEvoy stepped in and gave her one of her season tickets for free.

"[I'm] screaming, bloody murder, we were nuts," McDonell said.

She said Clark looks just like her granddaughter and described her as a light. McDonell said she became a basketball fan when she learned of Clark.

McEvoy, a season ticket holder, said since Clark lit the court on fire, she's had to arrive more than an hour early to park.

Clark began to pave her path to stardom early in life participating in boys' and girls' sports leagues. While attending Dowling Catholic High School, Clark once scored 60 points in one game. Her high school basketball coach Kristin Meyer tells Scripps News she knew early on that Clark's skills on the court were advanced and surpassed those of her teammates.

"I knew her potential was absolutely very high, but I don't know if anyone would have predicted this type of success," Meyer said.

Sports stores in Iowa City said they've seen an increase in sales for women's basketball merchandise. Coaches Corner near the Carver-Hawkeye Arena is also cashing in on new sales.

"Our sales have increased," said Taylor Hennes, a manager at the store.

Clark is an Iowa City star. She's landed several endorsement deals for her name, image, and likeness (NIL). NIL deals allow college athletes to receive financial compensation for promoting brands and products. Clark has a deal with Nike and appears in nationally-televised ads for State Farm.

While a lot has changed for this West Des Moines, Iowa native, she said at the end of the day she just goes about her business and acts like a 22-year-old college kid.

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