Iowa Freshman Caitlin Clark Went Off For 35 Points In A Blowout Win Over Kentucky

A hotly awaited Round of 32 contest between Iowa and Kentucky in the NCAA Women’s Tournament ended in lopsided fashion, as the Hawkeyes won 86-72, in large part because first-year guard Caitlin Clark willed it that direction. Clark scored 35 points on 13-21 shooting with six threes, six assists and seven rebounds, absolutely dominating a Kentucky team with projected future WNBA lottery pick Rhyne Howard.

The Hawkeyes controlled the game from the jump, pushing the pace and allowing Clark’s open-floor brilliance to take over the game. Clark was in double digits before the first quarter finished, and at halftime, she had outscored the Wildcats by herself, 24-22, as Iowa took a 49-22 lead into the break.

Clark, like Damian Lillard, Diana Taurasi or Steph Curry, is impossible to deal with once she steps past halfcourt because she is a threat to pull up from anywhere, doesn’t need to get her feet set, and plays with excellent pace. Her pull-up abilities from well beyond the arc punish anyone who drops back.

But when defenders step up to close out that space, it offers her lanes to get to the basket.

This game may have been billed as Clark vs. Howard, and thus Iowa winning in the manner they did may make it look as if Howard failed, but the Wildcats star put up 28-8-6 herself and was 5-12 from deep, in a valiant effort to keep her team within reach. Howard also took care of the ball, with zero turnovers to Clark’s five. But Howard’s supporting cast just wasn’t up to the challenge, which made it harder for her to keep pace with Clark.

Iowa post scorer Monika Czinano scored 14 points to go with eight rebounds, and the non-Clark Hawkeyes went 4-8 from three as well. Longtime Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder just put together an excellent gameplan around what Clark does well, while Kentucky simply didn’t have the answers early in head coach Kyra Elzy’s first Tournament appearance. Iowa just looked more ready to execute, and Clark performed at an elite level to lead the way.

The game’s result gets hoops fans one step closer to an all-time Sweet 16 matchup, with Clark and the Hawkeyes set to face friend and fellow wunderkind Paige Bueckers and her Huskies in the next round should UConn move on as well. UConn faces Syracuse on Tuesday night at 9 .m. ET, and the Sweet 16 matchup would take place next weekend.