Caitlin Clark scoring record: Top moments in Iowa star’s road to history

There was no better way for Caitlin Clark to break the mark.

Clark pulled up on a transition 3 from logo distance to set the NCAA Division I all-time women’s scoring record, breaking the 3,527 points Kelsey Plum scored at Washington. It was her third bucket of the game on Thursday against Michigan and hit net a swift 2:12 into the game.

The shot will go down in college basketball lore. Millions have watched Clark shoot her way to the record and ticket prices down the stretch were going for hundreds. The “Caitlin Clark Effect,” as it’s known, has taken on new heights this year, but Clark’s incredible shots span her career.

Here are some of her biggest moments in the run to the record.

Buzzer-beater stuns No. 2 Indiana

It’s hard to argue this wasn’t the moment that Clark mania went into overdrive.

Iowa, ranked sixth in the AP poll, trailed No. 2 Indiana by two with 1.5 seconds remaining in the 2023 regular season finale in Iowa City. ESPN’s “College GameDay” was in town, heightening the matchup for a national audience.

Everyone knew the ball would go to Clark, but it didn’t matter. Kate Martin inbounded it as Clark came at her rolling around the arc, and the star point guard got the shot off in transition leaning toward her right.

“Honestly, I thought it was money,” Clark told ESPN’s Holly Rowe in the post-game interview.

It went through as the buzzer went off, sending teammates into elation as they followed Clark, already off to the student section to celebrate. Clark had 34 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. The arena hit 119 decibels, the loudest ever recorded at the time, per Scott Dochterman of The Athletic.

“I’ve hit a few buzzer-beaters, but nothing to that extreme with the circumstances what they were for us. That’s definitely No. 1,” Clark said afterward.

Final Four upset: Clark scores final 13 points to oust South Carolina

Clark didn’t need buzzer-beater heroics a month later with the circumstances as great as they had ever been for Iowa. She kept pouring in points over the final minutes to avoid it.

Iowa led South Carolina for most of their 2023 Final Four matchup, going up by as many as nine points on the undefeated Gamecocks. South Carolina was a heavy favorite to win a second consecutive national title with their group of “freshies,” led by 2022 national player of the year Aliyah Boston. As Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said afterward, no one outside of their locker room picked Iowa to win.

South Carolina took the lead early in the fourth, and Clark answered by scoring Iowa’s final 13 points and 16 of the frame’s final 18. A 26-foot 3 gave Iowa the lead back for good at 8:51 and four free throws in the final 13 seconds put the game out of reach. She finished with 41 points (48 FG%), six rebounds and eight assists, though she had eight turnovers.

Clark again went to the Iowa fans in the stands at American Airlines Center in Dallas, resulting in an iconic photo of Hawkeyes celebrating and screaming at her with their phones out. The game drew 5.5 million viewers as the most-watched semifinal in ESPN history. The previous year’s Final Four games averaged 2.6 million.

Historic triple-double for a Final Four berth

No one could quell Clark’s scoring in the 2023 NCAA tournament. The win over South Carolina was her second consecutive 40-point game following the historic total in a win over Louisville that put them in their first Final Four since 1993. It was only their second trip to the final weekend.

Clark put up the first 40-point triple-double ever recorded on either the men’s or women’s side of the NCAA tournament with 41 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. She was responsible for 70 of Iowa’s 97 points, scoring or assisting on all 25 in the first quarter and 42 of 48 in the first half. It was the fifth triple-double of her season and 11th of her career.

Entering the elite 3K points club

Clark became the 15th player in Division I women’s basketball history to score 3,000 points when she crossed the mark on Dec. 6 with a 3-pointer from near the sideline.

Clark reached 3,002 points with the bucket and ended the game with 35 points, nine rebounds and five assists. She became the first player in DI women’s history with 3,000-plus points, 750-plus rebounds and 750-plus assists.

Clark’s former career-high scoring night

Clark committed to Iowa as the No. 5 recruit in the 2020 class — the same one led by UConn’s Paige Bueckers. By their sophomore years Clark and Iowa began earning more recognition on the national stage.

A big part of it was a then-career-high 46 points in a loss to Michigan on Feb. 6, 2022. Clark pulled up from the logo in transition, drawing awe from broadcasters, fans and social media watchers. She added 10 assists and played all 40 minutes. That quickly became the norm, and Clark reached 45 points three times, including this year, and set her new career high Thursday night.

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