When will Caitlin Clark break the women’s college basketball all-time scoring record?


Mere hours before the Super Bowl, Iowa star guard Caitlin Clark has a window to become the highlight of the sports world.

After tipping off at 1 p.m. (ET) at Nebraska, she can become the NCAA women’s basketball all-time scoring leader by scoring at least 39 points. Watch Clark once, and you understand a scoring barrage is routine for her — especially against Nebraska, which she has torpedoed for at least 30 points every time she’s faced the Cornhuskers.

If anyone can wedge into the Super Bowl spotlight — even momentarily — it would be Clark. She’ll be playing in front of another sellout crowd on Sunday and in front of a national audience (Fox Sports). The record she’s on the precipice of breaking dates back to only 2017, when Kelsey Plum scored 3,527 career points at Washington.

Clark moved past Jackie Stiles and Kelsey Mitchell into second place on Jan. 31 at Northwestern, when she also became the Big Ten’s leading scorer.

1. Plum, Washington (2013-17): 3,527 career points

2. Clark, Iowa (2020-24): 3,489

3. Mitchell, Ohio State (2014-18): 3,402

4. Stiles, Missouri State (1997-2001): 3,393

Clark has captured the nation’s attention for more than this record chase. Through her Iowa career, Caitlin Clark has made history: the first Division I women’s basketball player in the NCAA with a 40-point triple-double, the first with 3,000 points, 750 rebounds and 750 assists, and more 30-point games than any player in the last 25 years.

She’s dazzled with a regular display of logo-range, how-did-she-do-that 3-pointers and by putting Iowa women’s basketball back on the map with last season’s run to the national championship game. Her video-game scoring style, her pinpoint passes and her flair have made her arguably the most famous women’s college basketball player, and last season and this season, among the most recognizable college athletes of any sport.

If Clark falls shy of setting the record Sunday, it will be far from a letdown for Hawkeyes fans. In all likelihood, she then would have the opportunity to break the record at home in front of an adoring Carver-Hawkeyes Arena crowd on Thursday against Michigan. With no Super Bowl distracting a national sports fandom, she’d have the front page to herself.

Date Opponent PPG required How to watch

Feb. 11

at Nebraska

39

1 p.m., FOX Sports

Feb. 15

vs. Michigan

19.5

8 p.m., Peacock

Feb. 22

vs. Indiana

13

8 p.m., Peacock

Feb. 25

vs. Illinois

9.8

1 p.m., FS1

Feb. 28

at Minnesota

7.8

9 p.m., Peacock

March 3

vs. Ohio State

6.5

1 p.m., FOX Sports

One more game?

Plum’s scoring record lives on for another day. Caitlin Clark entered Thursday’s game against Penn State 66 points behind Plum as the all-time scoring leader in NCAA Division I women’s basketball. Although the Hawkeyes put up 111 points on 52.9 percent shooting, only 27 came from Clark, leaving her in second place until at least Sunday.

A 66-point effort would have been historic in more ways than one, but it was too tall of an order for Clark on this occasion. Sixty-six is 20 more than her career-high of 46, previously set in a loss to Michigan Feb. 6, 2022. It is five points more than the NCAA Divison 1 single-game scoring record, held by Ayoka Lee, who put up 61 points on Jan. 23, 2022 against Oklahoma. That total is also nine points more than the 57 Plum scored on the night she broke what was then Jackie Stiles’ scoring record seven years ago.

In her career, Clark’s best scoring outputs haven’t coincided with team success for the Hawkeyes. Iowa has lost during Clark’s three highest-scoring games, and the reigning Big Ten tournament champions were probably happy enough to secure the 111-93 win instead of watching Clark chase an individual mark.

It wasn’t the cleanest game for Clark, who recorded double-digit turnovers for only the second time in her collegiate career. She was also whistled for four fouls, including two in the first quarter as the Hawkeyes struggled to contain the Lions early. — Sabreena Merchant

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Caitlin Clark closing in on NCAA women’s scoring record after win vs. PSU

Which opponents can Clark do the most damage against?

Of the remaining six opponents on Iowa’s regular-season schedule, Clark has averaged more than 20 points against all of them. She’s given Nebraska nightmares throughout the years, registering eight 30-point games against the Cornhuskers and averaging 34.8 points. As a sophomore, she dropped 41 points on them.

Michigan, historically, presents opportunities for Clark, too. She lit up the Wolverines for 46 points (along with 10 assists) as a sophomore, and she scorched Ohio State for 45 points in a recent overtime loss.

All this to say, it’s not hard to see how Clark won’t take long to overtake the record.

Opponent PPG High Score

Nebraska

34.8

41

Michigan

34.8

46

Ohio State

33.8

45

Minnesota

32.2

37

Indiana

28.3

34

Illinois

27.3

32

Northwestern

26

30

Torching Nebraska

In eight games against the Cornhuskers, Clark has never failed to score at least 30 points.

The Hawkeyes have won every meeting. Her 34.8 points and nine rebounds per game against the Huskers are up about 25 percent over Clark’s career averages. She adds 7.6 assists per meeting.

Season Points Score

Freshman

39

Iowa 88-81

Freshman

35

Iowa 83-75

Sophomore

31

Iowa 95-86

Sophomore

31

Iowa 93-83

Sophomore

41

Iowa 83-66

Junior

33

Iowa 80-76

Junior

30

Iowa 80-60

Senior

38

Iowa 92-73

Through it, Clark has emerged as a villain in Lincoln, according to longtime Nebraska radio play-by-play announcer Matt Coatney, in part because of her “antics” on the court.

“She’s public enemy No. 1 to Husker fans,” Coatney said. “You can boo her as much as you want, but when she sticks a 38-foot 3-pointer in transition, you can’t really say anything. The thing that’s always impressed me: how remarkably consistent she’s been in these games against Nebraska.” — Mitch Sherman

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

What’s it like being torched by by Caitlin Clark? Nobody knows better than Nebraska

Another milestone in store?

Clark could also pass Pete Maravich’s all-time scoring mark this season.

Pistol Pete, whose career average was 44.2 points per game, scored 3,667 points. Detroit’s Antoine Davis came close to breaking it last season, finishing with 3,664 points, albeit during a five-season career. If Clark maintains her scoring average, she could go over Maravich’s total by Iowa’s final regular-season game.

When it comes to Clark passing Maravich, there are some obvious caveats. Of course, men’s and women’s basketball have their own record books. Maravich played only three seasons on LSU’s varsity (1967-70) because rules prohibited freshmen from competing at that level so that year’s scoring isn’t factored into NCAA records. And (huge one here) Maravich played before the 3-point line was introduced, making his long-standing record that much more remarkable.

How did Clark’s green light make her the gold standard?

It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact moment when it was determined in Iowa that any shot that left Caitlin Clark’s hands was not just a reasonable shot, but also a good shot. Because there are green lights, and then there are green lights. And Clark has matter-of-factly operated in the latter for much of her career.

But there’s a solid argument to be made that it was Feb. 6, 2022.

It was Clark’s sophomore season, and while she had been putting up big numbers, she wasn’t yet considered the one-woman wrecking crew that she has now become. To get to that level of lore, a player needs to not just throw the rocks but slay Goliath. And at that point, though she was a massive scorer, she was on a team that hadn’t yet taken down the best opponents. The Hawkeyes were 1-9 against top-25 teams in her career and they were on the road facing No. 6 Michigan. — Chantel Jennings

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Caitlin Clark’s green-light range made her the gold standard in women’s college basketball

‘She’s an intense competitor’

What did Iowa first notice when recruiting Clark? What’s it like from the inside watching her chase the record and lead Iowa to new heights? Iowa assistant Jan Jensen joined reporter Chantel Jennings on “The Athletic Women’s Basketball Show” to discuss the Hawkeyes.

All eyes on Clark

Saturday’s Iowa-Maryland game on Fox averaged 1.58 million viewers in primetime. That’s the most-watched women’s basketball game in the history of Fox Sports.

The contest was the second most-watched women’s college hoops game this season behind Ohio State-Iowa on NBC on Jan. 21, which garnered 1.93 million viewers. Iowa has now played in three of the five most-watched women’s college basketball games this season to date. The Hawkeyes also drew 1.043 million views on Fox for their game against Indiana on Jan. 13.— Richard Deitsch

Getting closer

Clark scored 38 points for her first career win at Maryland and needs just 66 points to break Plum’s record.

In Saturday night’s 93-85 victory in College Park, Clark hit seven 3-pointers and notched a season-high 12 assists while adding six rebounds.

‘Caitlin Cam’ will follow Iowa star

Fox Sports will unveil a camera dedicated solely to Iowa women’s basketball player Caitlin Clark streamed exclusively on its TikTok channel (@CBBonFOX) during the Hawkeyes’ game at Maryland on Saturday night.

The “Caitlin Cam” will follow Caitlin Clark while she’s on offense and then show game action when Clark is on defense or is on the bench. The feed will feature natural sound rather than the broadcasters’ breakdowns. It’s the first time Fox has employed a camera focused only on one athlete or streamed live content on TikTok.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Fox Sports’ ‘Caitlin Cam’ to follow Iowa star vs. Maryland

Bringing the scoring, and the joy

It’s just the simple arithmetic of being Caitlin Clark. Every quarter and every game of her historic career has added up to her being on the doorstep of becoming the greatest scorer in women’s NCAA basketball history.

Clark passed Missouri State’s Jackie Stiles for third place on the career scoring list in the first quarter, and after two layups in the second, she became the all-time leading women’s scorer in the Big Ten, passing Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell, who was also the second-leading all-time scorer in the college game. Now it’s Clark, who has 3,424 points.

There was no stoppage of action at Welsh-Ryan Arena — a road gym in geography only as the sold-out crowd of 7,039 was probably 80 percent Iowa fans — and no acknowledgment that she broke Mitchell’s conference record. Not even a sustained murmur from a crowd of fans who waited in line for hours to get in.

“Honestly,” Clark said, “I didn’t even know at what point it occurred.”

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Greenberg: Everywhere she goes, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark brings the joy of basketball with her

Big Ten record

On Wednesday at Northwestern, Clark moved into second place on the all-time list and set the Big Ten women’s basketball scoring record. She needed to score  “only” 14 points to pass former Ohio State star Kelsey Mitchell, and did so in the second quarter with driving layup.

Clark had moved into third place, jumping ahead of Jackie Stiles, with a 3-pointer (her sixth point) earlier in the game.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Caitlin Clark sets Big Ten scoring record, climbs NCAA list

Another sellout

Road attendance for Iowa’s games has been astounding.

With a sold-out crowd of 7,039 anticipated at Northwestern, this will be by far the largest crowd Caitlin Clark has played in front of at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The first time she played here, on Jan. 9, 2021, there were no fans in the stands because of the pandemic as the Wildcats won, 77-67. (A game when Clark was held to a low, as you’ll read below.) The second time on Jan. 28, 2022, an announced attendance of just 1,578  showed up for Iowa’s 72-67 overtime win.

How does Clark compare to the greats?

In a nearly empty arena in late November 2020, Caitlin Clark shot her first college 3-pointer. Time was ticking down in the first quarter of the Hawkeyes’ matchup against Northern Iowa. Clark forced a steal at midcourt and weaved her way to the right wing. With two defenders around her, she rose up. Her attempt was blocked.

That didn’t discourage her.

Now a senior, Clark is perhaps the biggest star across both men’s and women’s college basketball. She’s made more than 400 3-pointers throughout her college career and re-written the record book — at Iowa and nationally. “We see it every single day in practice, she hits one (shot) that amazes you or makes one pass that makes your jaw kind of drop,” Iowa assistant Abby Stamp says.

Clark passes with pin-point accuracy. Teammates and coaches alike laud her work ethic and improved leadership skills. But it’s Clark’s 3-point shooting which often immediately jumps out to viewers. She has been compared to some other recent greats in the basketball world — Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard and New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, to name a few. But how does Clark actually stack up when compared to such sharp-shooters?

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Their lights stay green: Comparing the shooting prowess of Caitlin, Steph, Dame and Sabrina

Logo woman

There’s no denying Clark’s appeal isn’t just in the numbers. Her knack for hitting clutch shots is only rivaled by her ability to hit deep shots. Way deep.

She’s a walking highlight reel, and her logo 3s often have made her the talk of college sports. Which is your favorite?

Will Clark return to Iowa? Or go to the WNBA?

Even when Clark inevitably sets the scoring record, she could have a whole other year to add to it. (Of course, four-year vs. five-year records will need to be taken into context.)

Clark, like other seniors, has an extra year of eligibility because of the pandemic. Or she could leave Iowa to go pro — she’s expected to be the No. 1 pick in April’s WNBA Draft. She said in early October that she would treat this season as if it was her last, but athletes have been known to change their minds.

The WNBA and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association had agreed on an opt-in process for NCAA players who are eligible for the draft but could also return to school. If Clark and the Hawkeyes were to make a second consecutive Final Four in early April, Clark would presumably have 48 hours following the conclusion of their final game to renounce her remaining eligibility and declare for the draft.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Will Caitlin Clark go pro? A WNBA Draft Lottery explainer

A no-brainer selection

Of a possible 40 points for The Athletic’s midseason All-America team votes, only one player received the highest total. You guessed it.

Clark was the first-place choice among all four voters, an indication of to whom — unless there’s a dramatic turn of events — the national Player of the Year trophy will be handed. One trivia-like stat that stood out to our voters? Clark has hit more 3s than nearly half of all Division I teams.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Caitlin Clark is a no-brainer for our midseason All-America team. Who else was picked?

The tough life of Iowa’s male scout team players

It’s a little after 11 a.m. on an unnervingly cold December day, and Isaac Prewitt exhales. Hands on hips, cheeks puffed out, the whole deal. His morning had been relatively easy for a while: Play dummy defense against pick-and-rolls; needle his friend about an incoming shipment of Gatorade Fit drinks; run some zone offense. A graduate student, whiling away winter break in a gym, doing a job that’s never work.

For the last few minutes, though, his job stinks.

Because his job is Caitlin Clark.

He wears a blue scout-team pinnie and pursues his pal with the Gatorade hook-up during an Iowa women’s basketball practice, slaloming around bodies trying to bump him off course, doing what he can to prevent a generationally gifted scorer from, well, scoring. At one point, Prewitt challenges a Clark 3-pointer so aggressively that his fingers interlock with Clark’s on her follow-through. She makes it anyway. Prewitt laughs.

Male practice players have been around women’s basketball for at least a half-century, mimicking the opposition’s schemes and personnel. They’re generally in the gym to help, not to win, often getting nothing except cardio for their effort. But unfair fights are one thing. How about a 6-foot-4 Stanford forward with an impossible wingspan and deceptive speed? A teenage prodigy at USC with a bottomless bag of answers? The Iowa guard who might score more points than any player in college ever has?

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

The men who practice against Caitlin Clark can’t stop her either

(Illustration and data visuals: John Bradford / The Athletic; Photos of Kelsey Plum and Caitlin Clark: Tony Quinn/ Getty, Rich Schultz / Icon Sportswire)





Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top