‘Galactic greatness’: Caitlin Clark breaks record, gets revenge in ‘epic’ NCAA game

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Remember the name Caitlin Clark.

The 22-year-old, who has already rewritten the college basketball record books, took another step to greatness on Tuesday AEDT with a blistering performance to lead Iowa to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament.

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In a blockbuster rematch of last year’s NCAA championship game, the Iowa Hawkeyes defeated the LSU Tigers 94-87 in a thrilling Elite Eight match-up in Albany, New York.

Clark scored nearly half her team’s tally, finishing with 41 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds.

She made nine three-pointers and every one of them was crucial as scores were tied 45-45 at halftime.

Clark nailed dagger after dagger, prompting a hilarious reaction from LSU’s Hailey Van Lith, who could only shrug her shoulders when Clark drained a three-pointer after being defended closely.

It was a revenge game for Clark, who took bragging rights over Angel Reese after the LSU centre pointed at her ring finger and taunted Clark with the John Cena ‘You can’t see me’ gesture after winning last year’s title.

Actor and Ted Lasso star Jason Sudeikis couldn’t get enough of the action, mimicking Reese’s taunt in the stands as Clark went berserk on court.

Reese brushed aside talk of the rivalry pre-game, saying she and Clark don’t hate each other. But the loss means LSU are eliminated and Reese and coach Kim Mulkey’s dream of going back-to-back is over.

Iowa will face either Southern California or Connecticut for a spot in the championship game, while South Carolina and North Carolina State will battle it out in the other Final Four match-up.

A NCAA championship is the one title Clark hasn’t won. Earlier this season she became the highest scoring player, male or female, in NCAA Division 1 basketball history.

In the victory over LSU, she also broke the previous record for the most three-pointers in Division 1 history (537).

“This one feels a little bit better,” Clark said after the win.

“It’s my senior year with this group, and a lot of people counted us out at the beginning of the year.

“And all we did was work really hard … But the job’s not finished.”

Clark rattled in four of her three-pointers in the third quarter to help take the game away from LSU and stay on track for a fairytale ending to her collegiate career.

“I think just confidence, being confident in all the work that I put in, trusting my teammates,” Clark said of her third quarter scoring spree.

“We knew it was going to be physical but we weathered every storm. But you’ve got to give them a lot of credit they had a great year.”

Basketball fans and commentators were simply in awe of Clark’s shooting ability as she dragged Iowa over the line.

ESPN’s commentator Ryan Ruocco exclaimed at fulltime: “Galactic greatness from Caitlin Clark on display yet again!”

NBA commentator Molly Morrison wrote on X: “Never thought i’d see someone else with the same shooting abilities as steph but caitlin clark is HER.”

Shea Serrano posted: “Caitlin clark hitting a goofy 28-footer fading left over van lith after van lith missed a wide open 3 is very much a f*** you from caitlin lol what a monster.”

Women’s hoops host LaChina Robinson said: “This game came down to Caitlin Clark. Period. Game over.”

Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde said: “Watching Clark shoot is just a thrill. Epic performance.”

Neroli Meadows added: “Atmosphere in the NCAA Elite 8 sounds unreal. Clark v Reese… love to see it.”

Clark is regarded as one of the greatest players — male or female — in the history of college basketball, an iconic, generational talent who this season overtook 1960s star Pete Maravich as the all-time leading scorer in collegiate hoops.

Her lethal shooting from beyond the arc has drawn comparisons to WNBA star Sabrina Ionescu and NBA three-point scoring leader Steph Curry — who faced off in a three-point contest at the NBA All-Star weekend in January.

Clark is set to be taken with the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever.

Her career has sparked a commercial bonanza for college basketball, attracting sellout crowds and drawing huge television audiences.

Her impact — dubbed the “Caitlin Clark Effect” has been compared to singer Taylor Swift and has even seen her followers dubbed “Clarkies”, mirroring Swift’s fervent fanbase of “Swifties”.

Rule changes to US college sports have allowed her to accept endorsement deals with such sponsors as Nike, Gatorade and State Farm, even finding her way onto TV commercials while still in school.

With AFP

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