Caitlin Clark shines for Iowa in collegiate debut

Iowa women’s basketball freshman Caitlin Clark led the team with 27 points in its 96-81 win against UNI.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

Iowa women’s basketball freshman and former top recruit Caitlin Clark finally had the opportunity to take the court as a Hawkeye on Wednesday, and she displayed why colleges all across the country wanted her.

In Iowa’s 96-81 win over UNI, the former five-star recruit started for the Hawkeyes and led the team with 27 points. She also tallied eight rebounds and four assists.

Clark scored the first four points of the game for Iowa, with her first two points coming on free throws early in the first quarter. At the end of the first, she led the team with 10 points and three assists. In the second quarter, Clark scored seven points, including one 3-point shot. Clark sunk two deep 3-pointers in the third, which contributed to her eight points in the quarter.

Clark only scored two points in the fourth quarter, making her last basket with 9:27 remaining and sitting the rest of the game.

She finished the game 10-of-17 from the field for a 58.8 percent shooting percentage.

Her confidence grew throughout the night, and Clark said consistently getting to the basket early allowed her to sink deep 3-point shots.

In her first collegiate game, the Des Moines, Iowa, native said the pace of the court rivaled that of her high school games, but there were times she felt out of stride.

“I think on most of the teams I’ve played on, it’s been fast paced go, go, go, so that really hasn’t necessarily been different,” Clark said. “The college court kind of got me there in the second quarter, I was a little winded – I think both teams were a little winded – but other than that it didn’t really affect me much.”

Clark said her high goals leading up to this game contributed to her performance. Clark said she is a big visuals person, and her vision of tonight’s game was similar to how it ended, other than playing with no fans in attendance.

“I set my goals pretty high,” Clark said. “I wouldn’t say I’m shocked, but it’s a good start to the season for sure.”

Head coach Lisa Bluder commended Clark’s performance, but also noted her four turnovers during the game.

“[Clark’s] what we expected, as far as she’s so good with the ball in her hands, and she can score at so many different areas,” Bluder said. “She’s going to get better, she turned the ball over too many times tonight… but we all know what an offensive threat she is.”

Clark also mentioned a couple “mental lapses” on the court, and noted that she’ll clean up her mistakes.

After Clark’s first game, her teammates had high praises.

“I definitely saw a lot of her quickness and her speed,” junior center Monika Czinano said. “In transition obviously sometimes we went a little too fast, but I really think there’s just some stuff we can fine tune. She did great, she made a whole bunch of shots, had some amazing assists, I think she had a really good all-around game. I’m really excited to have the rest of the season like that.”

Sophomore forward McKenna Warnock said a lot of Clark’s work is things that the fans don’t see.

“She’s an amazing player, obviously,” Warnock said. “Everyone can tell that, but she works really hard in practice as well, which is something you can’t see, and so it’s really inspiring. She brings a lot to the table – obviously she can facilitate for herself, but what she does for other people often goes unnoticed.”

Iowa women’s basketball plays its next game on Dec. 2 against Drake in Des Moines.

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