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Caitlin Clark Shatters Expectations

Caitlin Clark nails a three to break the NCAA Women’s record. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Holst and Big Ten Athletics)

Changing the landscape of college basketball can’t be easy, but Caitlin Clark makes it look that way. For some Ambrose students, it’s creating more attention than the men’s team right now.

“I’ll just look at my friends or whoever I’m watching the game with and we won’t say anything but we’re both confused, surprised, and just sitting in awesomeness because Caitlin Clark just did something insane,” says Hawkeye fan and SAU junior Jack Jennings.

He grew up just 30 minutes away from Iowa City and has loved the Hawks for as long as he can remember.

“They’re just so fun, I turn on games just to see what she’s doing sometimes.”

In a season filled with remarkable achievements Caitlin Clark has ushered in a new era of women’s basketball and many here at SAU are hoping it’s here to stay.

Thursday, February 15, 2024, will go down in college sports history for Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes. She surpassed the 3,527 points Kelsey Plum put up in 2017 during her four years at the University of Washington in a way that only Caitlin could, with an on-the-move, off-balance, logo three.

Clark finished with 49 points on the night, a career-high and an Iowa record for points in a single game. She now has her sights set on “Pistol Pete” Maravich for the all-time scoring record in the NCAA Divison I level. As of her record-breaking night, she had 3, 569 total points in her career which is 98 short of Maravich’s record. 

Then on March 3, Clark broke down the final record. With a free throw just 0.3 seconds from halftime, Caitlin Clark surpassed Pete Maravich to become the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer for both men and women. Maybe a free throw isn’t quite as spectacular of a record-breaking shot but it carries the same weight nonetheless.

With the March Madness tournament on the horizon, fans around SAU will be watching with the rest of the country. Jennings isn’t the only one who gets more excited about Iowa basketball than they have in a long time. Senior Cameron Gardner gets “fired up” whenever he gets a chance to watch “the best show on the court right now.” 

Transfer student Brandon Staffney-Attical says, “I’d love to get down to Iowa for the games. You know the atmosphere is about to be crazy turned up. I gotta go see my girl CC ball out.” 

Iowa is in line to host the initial rounds of the national tournament and Carver-Hawkeye Arena is no stranger to big games, and neither is Caitlin Clark. 

The Hawkeyes punched their ticket to the Final Four last year and came up just short in the national title game. This has put a lot of pressure on this team to make a return trip and no one is more focused than Clark.

“Yeah it’s cool, really really cool, to be in the same realm as a lot of really good players…but we gotta play better defense,” Clark said on Peacock before going into the locker room at halftime in the game she broke the record in.

Even in the midst of a night that should be all about her, Caitlin is aware that every single basketball game is important for this team right now. 

Having all of this pressure can’t be easy but Clark knows that the more she elevates her game, the more it elevates women’s basketball. The WNBA is in the early stages of growth and women’s basketball is growing, and Clark is helping in a big way. A record number of viewers tuned in to see Caitlin Clark have a chance at history, 2 million people, “the most in a game since 2010” as reported in the Athletic.

Many at SAU were among that total even as the game was found via streaming on Peacock. “I have to watch for sure,” says Anna Very, “all my friends talk about her so I wanted to see what the hype is about.”

The hype is certainly palpable in Iowa City as the Hawkeyes still have high hopes for a conference championship and a shot at another Final Four. But even if Clark and the rest of the Hawkeyes can’t reach the pinnacle of college basketball the season is still a success. Young girls and women alike flock to any city that Caitlin plays in wanting to see the best women’s player that has ever graced college basketball. It has been reported that in almost every arena that the Hawkeyes have played in this season, there has been a sellout crowd and record attendance. Caitlin Clark has changed the game but she is not done yet.