Caitlin Clark is great when the lights are brightest — and she was again against LSU

ALBANY, N.Y. — Caitlin Clark sat among the confetti not far from where she often shoots baskets and long-range shots. The crowd of teammates, family and friends naturally made an opening, just as LSU made room for her to tie her career record. Nine three-pointers. She pulled her new Final Four hat down and typed on her phone. Rolled a bit. Wiping my face after a long day.

The college senior wanted to take a few deep, quiet breaths. The mesh she cut from the edge of MVP Arena popped high out of her ponytail as cameras snapped.

“These moments go by so fast. I know how fast they go by,” Clark said in the locker room. “My career is almost over and I’m never going to win an Elite Eight game again. Soak it up and Enjoy it.”

Minutes later, she returned to the fray, taking photos and throwing confetti. The little kids who stayed after most of the 13,888-strong crowd left chanted her name in unison, even robbing a smile from the superstar. They scored 41 points with relative ease Against the team that prevented her from winning a national championship.

it is Iowa State celebrates after defeating LSU 94-87 Won the Albany Division 2 tournament and advanced to the Final Four. The NCAA’s all-time scoring leader also set multiple records: career three-pointers made, tied for most three-pointers made in a single game, and the school’s all-time scoring record. Author: Pearl Moore.

The championship game rematch was circled as soon as the bracket came out and made available for viewing by appointment on Saturday after each team locked up a spot in the Elite Eight.

But Iowa players and head coach Lisa Bluder later insisted that, as they had in the days before, they were not obsessed with thoughts of revenge. To them, it’s not about LSU. No matter which team is in the way. When the game ended, so did the careers of Clark, Gabby Marshall and Kate Martin. Bluder told them to live in the moment and stay active.

“If you live too much in the past, it ruins the present,” Clark said. “That’s what we talk about. Staying grounded. The biggest thing we talk about is what Iowa needs to do to win this game. game?”

Celebrating with teammates after the Iowa Hawkeyes beat LSU on Monday.  (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Celebrating with teammates after the Iowa Hawkeyes beat LSU on Monday. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Iowa State needs to get off to a hot start, knock down threes and play solid defense. All three points were achieved. After a basket from Hannah Stuelke, Clark pulled up and fired from deep on the Hawkeyes’ first possession, letting everyone know what was coming. She entered the game after a poor performance from deep in the Big Ten Conference in the NCAA Tournament, where she was 11-for-34 from the field.

“My 3-point shooting may not have been as good over the last five games or so,” Clark said, “but even if you tell me that, I’m still 110 percent confident in myself and what I’m doing. .” I’ve done it this year. “

On the next possession, she drove the ball and Gabby Marshall immediately passed the ball to the outside at the other end and grabbed the ball to add two more points for Sturke.

The Hawkeyes led by nine points in the first quarter and were tied 45-45 at halftime. Clark walked out of the locker room and hit his fourth three-pointer. Iowa outscored its opponents 24-13 in the third quarter. Clark scored 4 goals. LSU built a 69-58 lead from 3 to 7 in the period and didn’t tie the score until the final minutes.

“There’s not a lot of strategy. You have to guard her. No one else seems to be able to guard her,” LSU coach Kim Mulkey said. “We didn’t even guard her when we beat them last year. She’s just a generational player and she just makes everyone around her better. That’s what great players do.”

camera LSU guard Hailey Van Lith shrugs and says ‘what can you do’ On a shot from Clark, the Iowa State superstar frequently infuriated opponents and has continued to do so at least at the college level.

“She’s a great player. She takes some tough shots,” Van Liss said. “There’s not much you can do about some of the 3-pointers she makes.”

“Her long-range shot was so good tonight,” Bruder said. “Her signature 3-pointer was unbelievable. How do you defend, right? It’s almost impossible.”

At 5:05 of the game, she hit her ninth and final 3-pointer to push the deficit to 11 points, patting her chest and looking into the crowd, releasing the emotion she had spent years trying to recover. . She didn’t realize she had done it.

“Honestly, I think I was just excited for a second,” she said. “I tried to stay cool and collected. When you play a team like LSU, they’re never out. No matter what happens, What times and scores are.”

The emotional element is a big reason why the game’s ratings are expected to break records. Clark and LSU superstar Angel Reese talked their way into the game and have been embroiled in a larger discussion ever since. Reese has often been criticized for it and Clark’s antics in the first round raised eyebrows.

“It’s probably a highly emotional game,” Bluder said. “There’s probably a lot of talk on the court. Just looking at what happened at the end of last year. Honestly, she puts it aside. She puts everything into perspective. Set aside.”

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark breaks the net after beating LSU on Monday.  (Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports)Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark breaks the net after beating LSU on Monday.  (Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports)

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark breaks the net after beating LSU on Monday. (Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports)

Bluder praised her star players for coming together to help their teammates, each stepping up in their own way. Stuerke battled foul trouble but finished with eight points on 3-of-5 shooting in the paint against Reese. Martin scored 21 points and Sydney Affolt, who was thrust into the starting lineup in the playoffs, scored 16 points and earned all-division honors. Clark gave them a chance early, giving up his own shot and dishing out a game-high 12 assists, dazzling casual fans and igniting social media. Yes, Clark is a great passer and the assists are incredible.

“Caitlin Clark is not going to beat you by herself,” Mulkey said. “Everything she does is to make her other teammates better, which helps her score and they score to beat you.”

Defensively, she also stepped up. Clark, Martin and Marshall each had two steals and the defense performed well. Marshall did a great job passing the ball on the perimeter and causing trouble for LSU’s offense.

“I mean, there’s nothing from [stat] Pages other than this [she] There was no substitute the whole game and she just kept giving her all on defense,” Martin said.

Flau’jae Johnson scored 23 points to keep LSU on the pulse, freshman Mikaylah Williams scored 18 points and Reese (17 points, 20 rebounds) and Anisa Morrow (14 points, 14 rebounds) both had double-doubles. Reese sprained her ankle in the first half and said after the game that she had been playing with the injury for some time.

Marshall and Addie O’Grady (center) got quality minutes with Stuerke coming on as a substitute, both blocking shots as did Clark. The senior capped the game off with a dribble to end the game 15 seconds later, but she hoped it wouldn’t be over. The last time she lifted a trophy.

“You’re never satisfied with being in the Final Four,” Clark said. “We were so close to achieving our goal last year. It’s great to be back there and you enjoy it and soak it in. But once you get there, you just The page has been turned.”

After the celebration, Clark left the court with his pen and was surrounded by more cameras. She signed one T-shirt and one shoe after another. Parents held their children’s gear over their heads, trying to get autographs or autographs. Hello. The photo was taken as she walked through the tunnel, the back of her No. 22 jersey and the net tip of her hat swaying.

The last week of my college career flies by. She just hoped it wouldn’t end too soon.

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