Clark’s dazzling season ends short of title for Iowa

Published 7:15 pm Sunday, April 2, 2023

DALLAS (AP) — Caitlin Clark put her head down as she walked over the Final Four logo at midcourt, the time slipping away in Iowa’s first national championship game.

Even though Clark wasn’t able to deliver the Hawkeyes a national title, after a frustrating and foul-plagued 102-85 loss in the finale against LSU, the dazzling Iowa-born guard accomplished so much that had never seen in any NCAA Tournament before — by any woman or man.

And she still has another season remaining at Iowa, and could have two more if wanted, because as a 21-year-old junior she isn’t eligible for this year’s WNBA draft.

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Clark had 30 points in the championship game Sunday, finishing with a tournament record 191. That surpassed the 177 points by Sheryl Swoopes for Texas Tech in 1993, and the 184 by Glen Rice for Michigan in the 1989 men’s tournament.

That came after Clark scored 41 points in the national semifinal game over previously undefeated South Carolina, making her the first women’s player with back-to-back 40-point games in the NCAA Tournament. She had her 11th career triple-double in the regional final victory over Louisville.

Just like she has done so many times in her career, Clark made a long 3-pointer on her first shot of the game. That was the first of eight 3s, some at which all Kim Mulkey could do was shake her head at — the LSU coach had never seen Clark play in person before seeing her in the other Final Four game Friday night.

Clark already had her fourth 3 with 3:49 left in the first quarter to tie the game at 18. But she then missed six shots in a row, and by time she made another 3 with 7:54 left in the third, Iowa was down 63-45.

She was on the bench the last 3:26 of the first half after picking up her third foul.

Her fourth came on a technical foul she got for swatting the ball under the basket when reacting to post player Monika Czinano getting called for her fourth personal foul.

When Czinano got her fifth foul with 6:25 left, all Clark could do was hold her hands out and shake her head. She continued shaking her head at the referees when going back down the court.

About two minutes last, she had the same reaction when she was on the floor after a missed 3-pointer with no foul called.