The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Caitlin Clark crushes all-time NCAA Division I women’s basketball scoring record

Caitlin Clark beat the all-time NCAA Division I women’s basketball scoring record against Michigan on Thursday.
Emily Nyberg
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark warms up before a women’s basketball game between No. 4 Iowa and Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2024.

On a near-logo three much like the hundreds of others Caitlin Clark has made throughout her Hawkeye career, this one had Carver-Hawkeye Arena holding its breath, eyes peeled on the ball hurtling toward the rim.

Clark didn’t hesitate to pull it as soon as her feet were set just inside of the Tigerhawk logo at half court, her confidence in her three-ball bringing her arms up over her head and letting the ball release as her eyes were glued on the bucket.


Clark was officially the NCAA Division I women’s basketball all-time leading scorer.

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“My shot felt pretty good, so usually as a shooter you know the ball just comes off your hand a little better some nights other than others,” Clark said. “When you make a couple of shots as a shooter, it’s like a green light just to get another one up, and that’s exactly what it was.”

But her illustrious career — one that has included 3,528 points and counting, national awards, and deals with State Farm and Nike — was a steady work in progress, not a sudden explosion onto the scene.

Blake Clark, two years’ Caitlin’s senior and a former quarterback at Iowa State from 2018 to 2022, played a big part in crafting his sister’s fierce drive to win by competing in intense games of basement basketball.

“She was always a good athlete whether it was in tennis, soccer, or volleyball,” Blake said. “And she didn’t always love every sport that she was in, but she was always pretty talented at it. It was always just apparent that basketball seemed to come easier to her.”

Blake said he noticed his sister had an unmatched knack for the game when she was 10 years old and was up against other girls in AAU basketball. 

“We always knew she played differently with a little more flair and tempo that was certainly unique,” he said. “She just had this feel for the game and the speed about it.” 

Caitlin’s game soon became legendary among the gyms of central Iowa and beyond, and she received her first letter of interest from Division I school Missouri State while in the seventh grade. 

When it came time to enter high school at Iowa powerhouse Dowling Catholic in West Des Moines, head coach Kristin Meyer was fielding offers from D1 schools before Clark even attempted her first shot for the Maroons.

Meyer joined Dowling as the girl’s basketball head coach in the spring of 2016, just as Clark was preparing for her freshman year of basketball. It didn’t take long for her to become familiar with her newest protégé. 

“We went to a camp at Creighton that summer, and this was the first time I really got to see her play live with our high school team, and there were a few times I was just like, ‘Wow,’” Meyer said. “She would do a behind-the-back pass that was on the money, and her ability to create shots stood out. So right away, I knew this was on a different level than what I was used to.” 

By her sophomore year of high school, Clark was already labeled as one of the nation’s top recruits and was ranked No. 1 in the class of 2020 by ESPN. 

“In many ways, she made my job as a coach pretty easy,” Meyer said. “We never really had to put in a press break because she could just break presses herself. Her vision and passing ability made it so we could run any type of offense, and defenses would struggle with her.” 

Clark finished her high school career claiming nearly all of Dowling’s girls’ basketball records. She scored a total of 2,547 points and 283 three-pointers, good for fourth and sixth all-time among Iowa five-on-five girls’ basketball players.

There are plentiful examples of star high-school athletes who simmer out of the spotlight once faced with college-level competition. But Caitlin Clark made it clear that she wasn’t one of those players in her very first collegiate game. 

On Nov. 25, 2020, the only cheering heard in Carver-Hawkeye Arena was that of the booming voice of public address announcer David Gallagher, as the COVID-19 pandemic made it so only select coaches and media were in attendance for Iowa’s season opener against Northern Iowa. 

During the game, Caitlin recorded 27 points, eight rebounds, and four assists in a 96-81 win over the Panthers. 

“I wouldn’t say I’m shocked [at the performance], but it’s a good start to the season for sure,” Caitlin said during the post-game press conference. 

Playing in fan-less arenas, Clark would finish her first-year season starting every game and breaking the Iowa women’s basketball record for points and assists with 799 and 214, respectively, and Iowa reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, losing, 92-72, to No. 1 seed UConn. 

Her second collegiate season saw the guard’s ceiling continue to rise, as Clark continued to break records, such as her 18-assist performance against Penn State, and also became the first player in NCAA history — man or woman — to record consecutive triple-doubles with at least 30 points.

Iowa won the Big Ten Tournament and went on to lose to Creighton in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Clark was the unanimous Big Ten Player of the Year and won the Nancy Lieberman Award as the top Division I point guard. 

But it was Clark and the team’s performance in the subsequent season that would result in the Des Moines native becoming a household name for sports fans.

Clark led Iowa to become the No. 1-rated offense in NCAA women’s basketball, scoring the most points per game while the team was shooting over 50 percent from the field, and Clark herself averaged 27.8 points and 8.6 assists per game.

Iowa won the Big Ten Tournament once again, and the Hawkeyes went on a historic NCAA Tournament run, ending South Carolina’s 42-game win streak in the Final Four to advance to the program’s first-ever NCAA National Championship, losing, 102-85, to LSU.

The 2023 season was when the “Caitlin Clark effect” began blossoming. The national championship was the most-viewed women’s college basketball game on record, with 9.9 million viewers. In fact, every time Iowa advanced in the tournament, viewership grew compared to the 2022 tournament.

Clark’s following on social media also exploded during this time, gaining over 100,000 followers on X, formerly known as Twitter, in a single year. She has recieved praise from stars like LeBron James and Billie Jean King.

Iowa women’s basketball’s average game attendance increased from 8,224 to 11,142 from the 2021-22 to 2022-23 season, and this has continued this season as all of the Hawkeyes home games have been sold out — a first in the program’s history.

The UI athletics department would also parlay the rise in popularity of the women’s team by having Clark and company play in the highest-attended women’s basketball game ever at Kinnick Stadium for an exhibition game against DePaul, which attracted 55,646 fans.

“I think people are starting to understand how amazing women’s sports are and how fun it is to watch, and it’s just going to continue to grow,” she said. “If you give [women] the opportunity to shine, they will.”

Meyer has since relinquished her coaching role to cheer for Caitlin as a fan when watching her and the Iowa women’s team play at Carver-Hawkeye Arena or on national television. During the day, Meyer teaches as a technology integrationist at Dowling and said there isn’t a class where she doesn’t talk about Caitlin. 

“Everyone at Dowling is just so proud of her, and since we know her as a person, we’re just so happy for her because she’s a great kid, and she represents the state of Iowa so well,” Meyer said. 

Today, after nearly four years in a Hawkeye jersey, Clark has developed one of the most storied careers in collegiate athletics history — and when asked to reflect on it, she responds the same as she always has: selflessly.

“There’s people that have had [my] back through the ups and downs and have been there every step of the journey, whether it was good or bad,” Clark said of the roles her teammates, coaches, and family have played in her success. “They have seen the hard days and seen the good days, and I think that’s what means the most.”

Clark will forever be mentioned among the greatest scorers in NCAA women’s basketball history now that she has claimed the scoring record. For Blake, he will remember his sister’s collegiate career for that buzz and excitement it created for the sport. 

“I won’t look at her any differently if she has 6,000 points or zero,” Blake said. “It’s more about the team, winning games, and really changing the game and inspiring all these younger girls who will be the next generation that — and she’ll be the first to tell you this — will then smash her record one day.”

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About the Contributors
Colin Votzmeyer
Colin Votzmeyer, Assistant Sports Editor
Colin Votzmeyer is a junior at the University of Iowa studying journalism and mass communication with minors in history and criminology, law, and justice. Prior to his role as assistant sports editor, he previously served as digital producer, news reporter covering crime, cops, and courts, and sports reporter covering track and field and women's basketball. He plans on attending law school after his graduation with hopes of pursuing a career as a criminal defense attorney.
Cooper Worth
Cooper Worth, Pregame reporter
Cooper Worth is a Pregame Reporter for The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication. He is also earning a minor in communication studies and an entrepreneurial management certificate. This is his third year at the DI, previously serving as a News Editor and as a News Reporter covering local government in Johnson County for the DI. Cooper interned for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa during the summer of 2023 as a general news reporter.
Emily Nyberg
Emily Nyberg, Visual Editor
Emily Nyberg is a second-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic arts. Prior to her role as a Visual Editor, Emily was a Photojournalist, and a News Reporter covering higher education.