An extraordinary performance by one of the college basketball’s best shooters ever was required to bring an end to the University of Louisville women’s season in the Elite Eight of the NCAA basketball tournament. Let’s be clear, Caitlin Clark of Iowa is the personification of the dreams of every female who plays the game, as close to perfection as one can hope to achieve.
Clark takes impossible shots without a second thought, knowing most of them will be going in the basket. She’s the result of hundreds, if not thousands of hours, in the gym. While others are socializing, browsing the internet, doing homework or just hanging out, Clark is working on her game. That’s obviously what makes her happy, whether she has any other kind of life or not.
The UofL women quickly discovered Clark was no exaggeration after jumping out to an 8-0 lead in the opening two minutes. Following a hastily called Iowa timeout, Clark did what she does best, going on her own, 7-0. She then found her teammate McKenna Warnock for an open layup to grab Iowa’s first lead. Clark finished the quarter with 15 points, and assisted every other scored basket to take a, 25-21.
She had only just begun, however, and would finish the night with her 11th career triple-double with 41 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds. The first player in NCAA Tournament history to record a 40-point triple-double. Eight of 14 attempts from behind the three-point line, 11 of 13 from the free-throw line, 12 assists and three steals. Such a stellar performance, overshadowing the fact that Louisville had forced her into nine turnovers. Maybe super woman needs more work on protecting the ball?
Hailey Van Lith led the Cardinals with a postseason career-best 27 points. She finished the season with 729 points, fifth-best for a single season in program history. Olivia Cochran had her ninth career double-double with a career-high 20 points and 14 rebounds. The 14 rebounds are tied for the fifth most in an NCAA Tournament game in program history.
When it was all over Iowa had defeated UofL 97-83, ending the Cardinals chances for a sixth Final Four appearance. A remarkable NCAA run for a team that had begun the season with a 4-5 won-lost record. Their fifth consecutive Elite 8 appearance and a season mark of 26 wins against 12 losses.
Jeff Walz proud of how far his UofL had come after getting off to a less-than-impressive start to the season.
“I was really proud of our kids. I thought we just kept grinding, kept fighting. We came out in the second half, threw some stuff at ’em, scored four straight, and then just had a rebound slip through our hands and it gets kicked out and it turns into a three, and then all of a sudden it’s an 8-0 run. It’s part of basketball. But I love these kids. They played their tails off and there was definitely no quit in ’em.”