Iowa’s Caitlin Clark passes Pete Maravich for Div. I scoring mark

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Caitlin Clark has joked about being nicknamed “Ponytail Pete” in recognition of how her game resembles that of “Pistol Pete” Maravich.

On Sunday in her last regular-season home game, the Iowa Hawkeyes star passed the LSU and NBA legend for the most points scored by a Division I basketball player, men’s or women’s.

On senior day at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Clark entered the game against Big Ten regular-season champion Ohio State needing 18 points to pass Maravich, who scored 3,667 points in his three seasons at LSU from 1967 to ’70.

Clark got the record in a rather improbable way. After Clark missed a 3-pointer on her last shot attempt of the first half, the Hawkeyes had one more chance at the basket after an Ohio State miss. Iowa’s Hannah Stuelke was fouled by Madison Greene, and then a technical foul was called on the Buckeyes’ Cotie McMahon.

After Stuelke hit two free throws, Clark stepped to the line with 0.3 seconds left needing both free throws to reach 18 points. She hit both to pass Maravich and give Iowa a 48-39 lead at halftime.

It has been a record-setting season for Clark, who announced Thursday she would not use the COVID-19 waiver from 2020-21 for a fifth season at Iowa and instead would enter the 2024 WNBA draft. That brought an extra poignancy to senior day, which she shared with teammates Kate Martin, Gabbie Marshall, Molly Davis and Sharon Goodman. Clark, a native of West Des Moines, has been a special favorite of Hawkeyes fans not just because of her great play, but because she’s a native of the state who stayed “home” for college.

As with every Iowa home game this season and many road games, it was a sellout, with fans arriving early in the morning to take part in ESPN’s “College GameDay.” An extra surprise for Clark was former UConn Huskies and Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore, who was Clark’s favorite player as a child, in attendance.

Until Thursday, it wasn’t certain whether Clark would leave after four seasons or stay at Iowa to truly put most scoring and assists records out of reach with another college season.

But even in the standard career time, Clark has set several records:

  • On Dec. 6, she hit the 3,000-point mark at Iowa State.

  • On Feb. 11 at Nebraska, she reached the 1,000-assist mark, making her the first Division I women’s player to have both 3,000 points and 1,000 assists.

  • On Feb. 15 in Iowa City, Clark passed Washington’s Kelsey Plum (who scored 3,527 points from 2013 to ’17) for the NCAA women’s scoring record with a 49-point performance that also set Iowa’s single-game scoring record.

  • On Feb. 28 at Minnesota, Clark passed Kansas’ Lynette Woodard for the major-college women’s scoring record with a 33-point performance that was part of her 17th career triple-double. Woodard played just before the NCAA era, scoring 3,649 points from 1977 to ’81, when women’s college sports was governed by the AIAW. Woodard was in attendance at Sunday’s game and received a standing ovation from the crowd when she was introduced on the court during the first quarter.

  • Also, in that victory over the Gophers, Clark hit eight 3-pointers, giving her 156 for the season, another Division I record. Clark’s six triple-doubles with at least 30 points are also the most in Division I history.

Pearl Moore, who played at Francis Marion from 1975 to ’79, holds the AIAW small-college women’s record with 3,884 points. But in terms of major college/Division I men or women, Clark now stands alone.

Maravich, Moore and Woodard all played before the 3-point line was implemented in college basketball. And Maravich’s career was before freshman eligibility in college sports, so he was limited to 83 games over his three seasons. That said, he averaged 38.1 shots per game in his career. Entering Sunday, Clark has averaged 19.9 shots per game.

Clark is the overwhelming favorite to repeat as national player of the year and be the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever. She also is on track to lead the nation in scoring for the third time (as a freshman, sophomore and senior) and to lead the nation in scoring and assists for the second time (as a sophomore and senior). She would be the first player in Division I history to accomplish either.

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