By Susan Harman
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa All-American Caitlin Clark passed the 2,000 career-point mark when a wide-open 3-pointer from from the right side nestled into the net. Only three previous players (Megan Gustafson, Ally Disterhoft and Cindy Haugejorde) have reached that milestone and, of course, Clark is only a junior.
The Hawkeyes, prohibitive favorites over an out-manned Dartmouth, won the game 92-54, as expected at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. While the game was not competitive, the Clark drama held the crowd’s attention. Clark had a fastbreak layup and four free throws before the big shot with 7:31 left in the second quarter.
“It’s pretty crazy to think about it, obviously,” Clark said. “It wouldn’t be possible without all my teammates. I didn’t know coach Bluder was going to call timeout, so I got choked up a little bit.”
Fans gave her a standing ovation.
Clark reached the milestone in 75 games. Elena Delle Donne, who played at Delaware and has won a WNBA title with the Washington Mystics, is the only other player to reach 2,000 in so few games. ESPN said their research only could verify that statistic dating from the 1999-2000 season.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.
Clark said Delle Donne was one of her idols growing up and that she wears the Delle Donne model sneaker. At the end of the game Clark took off her shoes, autographed them and gave them to a little girl, who promptly rushed up the long stairs of Carver-Hawkeye arena with several pals in her wake.
“It was just a little girl who was at the game,” Clark said. “I think she was pretty shocked. I don’t think she was really expecting me to give her shoes. She was like, ‘For me?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, for you.’”
For the record she wears a women’s 11. Clark, not the little girl.
The second quarter also erased any doubt that the game itself would remain compelling. Iowa held the Big Green to two field goals as it doubled its 15-point first-quarter lead to 54-24 at halftime.
“Our defensive effort in the second quarter was excellent,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.
Not to be outdone, Monika Czinano had a milestone of her own, attempting the first 3-point shot of her career. The crowd was ready to lift the roof off when it saw she was going to let it fly. Unfortunately for the 5th-year player, it fell short and the crowd let out a disappointed groan.
“I told coach J (Jan Jensen) that if the moment occurs, I’m going to take it,” Czinano said. “It just happened and it came right to me.”
Czinano is next on the 2,000-point hit parade. She has scored 1,989 points and is likely to hit the milestone in Iowa’s next game against Purdue at home on Dec. 29.
“I remember when Megan hit that, I think in my freshman year, and I thought ‘Oh man that’s really impossible,’” Czinano said. “To be going into that and see Caitlin accomplish that, it’s so special to be here in this program and accomplish that. To be able to help the team in that way is a huge honor.”
Bluder substituted liberally throughout the game. Fourteen players saw action including Johnston freshman Jada Gyamfi, who hasn’t played yet this season. Bluder said Gyamfi has missed a lot of basketball dating back to the summer and fall seasons.
“She’s been consistently in practice for the last week and a half, so it was good to get her out there,” Bluder said.
Iowa made 35-of-63 shots (.556) and had 30 assists on the 35 baskets. Czinano and Clark each had 20 points.
“We shot the ball well today,” Bluder said. “We got out and pushed well, especially to start the game.”
McKenna Warnock had 14 first-half points and Kate Martin had nine assists en route to a career-high 13. Both veterans were very active on both ends of the court.
“A lot of it was transition,” Bluder said. “McKenna was running the court hard, and she does that about every game, she gets one fastbreak layup. The thing about Kate is she scored four points but she had 13 assists. She was one for one from the field. She has a steal, three rebounds. She never forces anything offensively but, man, 13 assists in 23 minutes, that’s hard to do.”
The third quarter was more of a slog, as if the Hawkeyes had one foot out the door on the way home for holiday break.
“We let up a little after halftime, and that was a little disappointing, but we got back the energy in the fourth quarter,” Bluder said.
Bluder was looking for some cohesive performances and she got it when the starters were in during the first half and at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Freshman sharpshooter Taylor McCabe hit both her 3-point attempts in the first half. Sophomore A.J. Edinger came off the bench for a career-high 10 points in the post.
“We’ve been searching for that (center off the bench) that really wants to come up and take that position,” Bluder said. “Maybe we found it.”
Bluder was asked to assess her team going into break with the Boilermakers on the horizon.
“We’re 10-3 going into resuming conference (play); I think that’s pretty good considering the schedule we’ve played,” Bluder said. “We know it’s going to get a lot more difficult. So I feel pretty good about where we are, but the thing is I’m optimistic that we can get better.”
𝐈𝐭'𝐬 𝐚 𝐛𝐞𝐚𝐮𝐭, 𝐂𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐤 🤩
The moment she netted No. 2,000! pic.twitter.com/y552HdtLak
— Iowa Women's Basketball (@IowaWBB) December 21, 2022