Caitlin Clark, Iowa headed to Final Four after women's NCAA Tournament win over Louisville
SEATTLE — Even by Caitlin Clark standards, that was pretty special.
The junior superstar played a role in nearly every Iowa basket, scoring 41 points and handing out 12 assists and collecting 10 rebounds as second-seeded Iowa defeated Louisville 97-83 to book a trip to the Final Four on Sunday.
It’s the first time the Hawkeyes have been to the Final Four since 1993, and the first under 23-year coach Lisa Bluder. And it was the fifth triple-double of the season for Clark, who leads the nation in assists per game and is third in scoring.
After Louisville opened up an 8-0 lead and forced Iowa to call a timeout, it was pretty much The Caitlin Clark Show.
She went on a 7-0 run by herself, torching the Cardinals in the first half. She scored 22 on 7-of-11 shooting in the first 20 minutes, also out 8 assists. She scored or assisted on all of Iowa’s 25 points in the first quarter, and didn’t cool off much in the second quarter. The Hawkeyes shot 55% from the field the first half, hitting nine 3s.
Iowa used a 30-point third quarter to pull away in the second half.
The win is especially gratifying for a veteran Iowa group — Sunday marked the 90th start together for the Hawkeyes’ starting five, the most in Division-I over the last 20 years — after they failed to get out of the second round last year. Iowa was upset on its home floor by 10th-seed Creighton, robbing viewers of the chance to watch the player who regularly pulls up from the logo.
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It’s also noteworthy for Bluder. Four years ago the Hawkeyes had another player of the year in forward Megan Gustafson, a double-double machine who never made it to the Final Four. In 2019, Gustafson’s senior year, the Hawkeyes got thumped by No. 1 seed Baylor in the Elite 8.
Iowa was better than Louisville in almost every facet of the game Sunday, shooting 54% from the field to the Cardinals’ 43%. They hit 16 3s and totaled 20 assists.
Hailey Van Lith led the Cardinals with 27 points.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Iowa in Final Four of women's NCAA Tournament after win vs. Louisville