Caitlin Clark closing in on record after 38-point outing in win over Maryland

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Caitlin Clark is now a mere 66 points away from becoming the NCAA women’s basketball all-time leading scorer. After her 38-point performance in No. 3 Iowa’s thrilling 93-85 win over Maryland on Saturday night in College Park, Clark is quickly closing in on Kelsey Plum’s record of 3,527 points.

The reigning Naismith Women’s Player of the Year entered the game fresh off a 35-point performance in Iowa’s win over Northwestern on Wednesday. It was then that she passed both Jackie Stiles and Kelsey Mitchell to move into second place on the all-time scoring list, squarely behind Plum.

Clark arrived at the Xfinity Center, Maryland’s home court, escorted by multiple security guards as the Hawkeyes braced to play in front of their 11th sold-out crowd on the road and the first at Maryland since 2016. She certainly didn’t disappoint and has now scored at least 30 points in her last six games. 

“Caitlin has ice in her veins and everybody knows it,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.

Here are three takeaways from another dominant Iowa win:

Clark caught fire early

Clark hit her first 3-pointer just 16 seconds into the game, and got hotter from there. By the end of the first quarter, she had four 3s. By halftime, she had 23 points, forcing social media to wonder if she might rain on JuJu Watkins’ parade. Watkins, a freshman at USC, scored 51 points in a Friday night win over Stanford.

While Clark didn’t score quite that many – she would have had 40 if not for a missed layup with 20 seconds left – she still wowed the crowd. In the first half, Clark had a logo 3 from the wing and later, drove the length of the court, beat a defender with a nifty behind-the-back dribble and then used a spin move on the same defender for an and-1 layup. She added a season-high 12 assists and six rebounds.

There was a brief scare in the second quarter when Clark got the wind knocked out of her while defending a Terrapin player in the paint. Bluder followed a team trainer and ran out onto the court to make sure the superstar was OK, and Clark sat on the bench for about a minute to catch her breath. At halftime, though, Clark smiled and told the broadcast, “I feel amazing,” which certainly eased all of America’s nerves.

Caitlin Clark knocks down a CLUTCH 3-pointer as Iowa builds lead vs. Maryland

Caitlin Clark knocks down a CLUTCH 3-pointer as Iowa builds lead vs. Maryland

Clark’s teammates came through in the fourth quarter

This was a fast-paced, nail-biter kind of game from the start. Anytime it felt like the Hawkeyes were about to pull away, the Terrapins came roaring back. For example, Iowa gave up an 18-point lead when Maryland tied things up at 76-76 with 6:19 remaining. Clark made a 3 in response, always the one taking the big shot and asking for the ball in her hands in the most important moments. 

But after that, Clark created opportunities for her teammates, who would go on to score Iowa’s next 10 points. Like when Clark set up Sydney Affolter in the paint to give the Hawkeyes a four-point lead, and later when Clark made a cross-court pass from the right wing to the left corner and found Affolter for a 3-pointer that put their team up by six with 3:29 to go.

The game came down to the last few critical possessions, and for as close as Clark came to putting up 40 points, she was just as often looking for an open teammate.

“Leaning on your teammates,” Clark said when asked about her 12 assists. “That’s what it is. I’m not gonna win a game by myself. There are four other girls I can rely on.”

‘I’m not gonna win a game by myself’ – Caitlin Clark on Iowa’s 93-85 win over Maryland

'I'm not gonna win a game by myself' – Caitlin Clark on Iowa's 93-85 win over Maryland

So, when will she break the record?

Clark is averaging 32.1 points per game, the best in the country, and has now scored more than 30 points in each of her last six games. 

Entering Saturday’s game, it was widely thought she could break the record at home in Iowa City on Feb. 15 when the Hawkeyes host Michigan. However, given her performance against the Terrapins – and assuming she does something similar against Penn State on Thursday – she could make history ahead of schedule. It’s looking more and more like a possibility that she’ll surpass Plum when Iowa plays at Nebraska on Feb. 11.

But ask Clark about it, and she just laughs.

“Women’s basketball is awesome,” Clark said. “[I] stay present in the moment, don’t worry about what’s to come. Just go game by game, practice by practice, and have fun with my best friends.”

Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of “Strong Like a Woman,” published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.

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