Locked-In Clark Carves Up Buffaloes

Hawkeyes Follow Lead of Star
Hawkeyes celebrate March 30, 2024 win against Colorado. (Photo: hawkeyesports.com)
Hawkeyes celebrate March 30, 2024 win against Colorado. (Photo: hawkeyesports.com) /

Caitlin Clark shines even when she's a little off her game. When she's locked in, look out. 

Colorado found that out first-hand Saturday during an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 matchup at the MVP Center in Albany, N.Y. Iowa's transcendent star carved up with the Buffaloes with her pin-point shooting and sick assists. The Hawkeyes rolled to another Elite Eight, 89-68. 

Clark looked ultra focused from the opening tip. While she got out of her game at times in the first two rounds, she just moved on to the next play Saturday, good or bad. In other words, her father, Brent Clark, could enjoy the game in peace

Even when she's mixing it up with officials or asking for dad's support in the stands, Clark is the best player on the court. But when she's just enjoying the sport and doing her thing, she and Iowa stand an even better chance of winning it all. 

Clark's fire is great. She's competitive. Her teammates feed off of her throwing up three fingers after splashing in a deep trey. They also share her energy when she stresses about areas out of her control, especially officiating. 

Saturday, the Hawkeyes clicked from start to finish. They shot 53.9 percent from the floor, including 40.9 from behind the arc, and assisted on 20 of their 35 of their baskets. 

Clark led the attack with 29 points, shooting 13 of 22 from the floor, driving then threes weren't falling. She recorded 15 assists, her most ever in this event, and grabbed six rebounds. All of the above came with just two turnovers. 

The captain led by example along with her always outstanding performance. Kate Martin (14 points, 9 rebounds), Gabbie Marshall (14 points/4 of 5 from 3), Sydney Affolter (15 points/ 6 of 6 FG) and Hannah Stuelke (11 points, 10 rebounds) provided excellent support. 

That looked like a national championship team, one guided by a superstar on a mission. She caught herself flinching a few times, Saturday, before quickly refocusing. 

Hawkeye fans should feel confident heading into Monday's matchup with defending national champion LSU. If their team can remain locked in, accepting the pressure as a privilege, players connected, it will be off to another Final Four. 

------

Iowa helped itself out greatly on Saturday by crashing the backboards. Even with two 6-foot-3 starters, the Buffaloes were out-rebounded, 43-34. 

Iit took a collective effort in cleaning the glass. Stuelke (10), Martin (9), Clark (6) and Affolter (5) chipped in as did Addison O'Grady, who grabbed two boards in her six minutes off of the bench. 

The Hawkeyes also enjoyed a 46-36 advantage on points in the paint despite being the undersized team. 

------

Affolter's performance in the absence of season-long starter Molly Davis this tournament has been nothing short of amazing. She continued that run on Saturday, leading Iowa with a +32 in plus-minus rating. Clark was second at +22. 

------

Clark's passing was a sharp as it'd been all season. It was met with good hands by her teammates. The fast-break was a thing of beauty. 


Published |Modified
Rob Howe

ROB HOWE

HN Staff