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Caitlin Clark leads Iowa to finals


MINNEAPOLIS — Caitlin Clark tied the NCAA all-time scoring mark with 28 points and had a season-high 15 assists to lead third-seeded Iowa to a 95-68 win over Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Saturday.

The Hawkeyes (28-4) had the best overall game with Hannah Stuelke scoring 16 points on 7-for-7 shooting, Kate Martin adding 13 points and Sydney Affolter adding 12 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds and 2 steals. one win for their third straight conference tournament title. They are 11-1 in this matchup in Clark’s career.

“I’m recovering for three days,” said Clark, who reached 1,000 points for the second straight season. “That’s all we know. That’s what we do.”

Iowa will face Nebraska for the championship on Sunday. The fifth-seeded Huskers beat eighth-seeded Maryland on Saturday to advance to the finals for the first time in 10 years.

With fifth-year guard Gabbie Marshall again leading the effort, the Hawkeyes locked in and maxed out on defense. They silenced first-team All-Big Ten Laila Phelia for most of the game after scoring a season-high 30 points in a quarterfinal win over 12th-seeded Indiana on Friday.

That likely guaranteed a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but a headline win like that certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Phelia scored 21 points and 7 assists, Jordan Hobbs added 14 points and Lauren Hansen added 13 points for the Wolverines (20-13). Michigan made its first seven 3-pointers and was already down 39-30 after its first miss midway through the second quarter.

The Hawkeyes grabbed a 54-16 point advantage in the paint, dished out a season-high 30 assists and finished with five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, delighting the sold-out crowd dominated by Iowa. We see this team everywhere they play.

“We were worried about the shooters,” Phelia said. “So we had to do a better job of getting in and out.”

Clark would often wave his arms after big baskets to get fans roaring even louder, adding to the energy boost the Hawkeyes got in the tournament that’s an easy drive from most of Iowa.

“The bigger the light, the more it’s going to come out,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “He likes high-energy games.”

After missing 12 of 14 attempts in a 95-62 quarterfinal rout of Penn State, Clark, still the all-time NCAA leader in three-pointers made, scaled back on her outside shot and unleashed her inner point guard throughout the game. first half.

“We came out attacking like we always do,” Affolter said.

Whether it was one-handed extended passes that bounced off the field, strides to teammates after halftime, or a quick shot to cut the backdoor, Clark’s distribution game was in high gear.

“You try to keep the ball out of his hands because he’s a great decision maker. But it’s hard to guard him,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “I don’t know if anyone has figured that out.”

He made a 3-pointer during a 9-0 run early in the second quarter that gave the Hawkeyes a decisive lead, then he made a behind-the-back pass to Affolter, who had recently returned to the starting lineup following an injury. Molly Davis – for a 3-pointer on the break.

“This has been a year where he has stepped up,” Clark said. “In addition, he does a lot of things that aren’t even on the list.”


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