While the LSU Tigers took home their first-ever NCAA women’s basketball championship, there was one player who stole the show throughout March Madness.
Iowa’s Caitlin Clark went into the tournament with a lot of people expecting her to dominate, with basketball greats Steph Curry and Sue Bird among those joining in the hype surrounding the junior.
Yet despite the weight on her shoulders, Clark not only lived up the expectations, but surpassed what many were predicting during a historic run of games.
Clark was lights out throughout the postseason for the Iowa Hawkeyes and torched her opponents at every possible opportunity.
The 21-year-old scored an incredible 191 points throughout the tournament, including dropping 41 points in back-to-back games – the first time someone has had consecutive 40-point games in the history of the women’s tournament.
Clark’s scoring run surpassed any single-tournament March Madness tally – men’s or women’s – and ensured that her historic performances will be remembered for years to come.
Her eight three-pointers in the championship game were also enough to break another record but – unfortunately for Iowa fans – not enough to seal the tournament win.
Not only did the Naismith Women’s Player of the Year break the single tournament scoring record, Clark was dishing out dimes for fun throughout March Madness.
To go with her record-breaking scoring streak, the Iowa native also broke the women’s single tournament assist record with 60 dimes – demonstrating her brilliant, complete offensive game.
This all-around skill was also on display during Clark’s 41-point triple-double in the Elite Eight – the first in NCAA tournament history in the men’s or women’s competition.
Clark will no doubt be disappointed with coming up short in the final, but her run throughout the tournament will not be forgotten anytime soon.
Speaking after the championship game, an emotional Clark spoke on her team’s run.
While crying, the Hawkeyes star said: “I think the biggest thing is it’s really, really special. I don’t think it’s going to set in for me for quite some time.
“I want my legacy to be the impact that I can have on young kids and the people in the state of Iowa, and I hope I brought them a lot of joy this season. I hope this team brought them a lot of joy.”
Clark continued: “I understand we came up one win short, but I think we have a lot to be proud of and a lot to celebrate. I was just that young girl, so all you have to do is dream, and you can be in moments like this.”
The guard has also attracted big name fans throughout the world of sport as a result of her impressive performances.
During the tournament, NBA legend LeBron James tweeted to say Clark is “so COLD,” two-time Super Bowl winner Patrick Mahomes shared his support for the guard and Magic Johnson said he wants to “give a lot of love to [the] superstar.”
Pre-tournament, four-time NBA champion Curry also acknowledged the AP Player of the Year’s prowess from deep when speaking to ESPN.
“We know everything kind of centers around her,” explained the NBA’s record three-point scorer. “But she does a great job of scoring at a high level but also being a playmaker and distributor.”
The Warriors star, who knows a thing or two about shooting, added: “No shot is a bad shot when you can shoot it as well as she can.”
WNBA legend Bird also praised Clark’s incredible playmaking, with the 13-time WNBA All-Star saying: “The relationship between her passing and her scoring is what will take her a long way.
“You obviously can’t leave her open. So the closer you are to her gives her more opportunity to create for herself and use that space to create for others.”
Clark won’t be eligible for the WNBA Draft until 2024 so will have at least one more year at Iowa before moving to the league.
Iowa fans will be hoping their star player will be able to go again next year and lead the Hawkeyes to another deep run during March Madness – looking to go one step further and lift the title.