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March Madness: Iowa star Caitlin Clark breaks NCAA tournament scoring record in title game vs. South Carolina

Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes reached the NCAA tournament title game for a second straight season

Caitlin Clark put up 18 points in the first quarter on Sunday afternoon, which marked another championship game record.
Caitlin Clark put up 18 points in the first quarter on Sunday afternoon, which marked another championship game record. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Caitlin Clark set a few more records on her way out the door on Sunday afternoon.

The Iowa Hawkeyes star erupted in the first quarter of their national championship game against South Carolina on Sunday. Clark put up 18 points in the first 10 minutes of the game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, thanks to a deep contested 3-pointer over Gamecocks star Kamilla Cardoso in the final minute, which marked the most points ever scored by a player in a single quarter of a championship game.

That bucket also set the all-time NCAA women's tournament scoring record. Clark moved past both Maya Moore and Chamique Holdsclaw — who previously held the all-time mark with 479 career tournament points — on the scoring list.

Clark entered the game just 17 points short of matching Holdsclaw's record, which she set in the 1990s while winning three straight national titles with Tennessee. Clark led the country in scoring this season with 31.7 points per game, and she's averaged 30 points per game in the tournament entering Sunday, so the record was within her grasp.

Iowa logoIowa logo
Caitlin Clark
G - IOWA
2023 - 2024 season
31.9
Pts
7.3
Reb
8.8
Ast
1.7
Stl
34
Min

Clark’s first quarter even caught the attention of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

Clark set a single-tournament record last season while leading the Hawkeyes to the championship game, where they fell to Angel Reese and LSU. Clark put up 196 points in six games last year, including back-to-back 40 point performances. She then led the Hawkeyes back to the national title game this season after beating both LSU in the Elite Eight and then UConn in the Final Four. The Hawkeyes are responsible for South Carolina's only loss over the last two seasons entering Sunday's game, too, after they beat the Gamecocks in the Final Four last year.

Clark, who became the NCAA’s men’s and women’s all-time leading scorer earlier this season while earning back-to-back National Player of the Year honors, is sure to be selected No. 1 overall by the Indiana Fever in the WNBA Draft later this month.

She finished the first quarter with 18 points and shot 5-of-8 from the field, which gave the Hawkeyes a 27-20 lead. Clark was held to just three points in the second quarter, however, and the Gamecocks took a 49-46 lead at the break.

Like they have so many times this season, the Gamecocks surged ahead in the second half. They pushed ahead late to grab an 87-75 win over the Hawkeyes, which gave head coach Dawn Staley her third national title with the program. Clark finished with 30 points in her final college game.