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Caitlin Clark's 33-point game moves her past Lynette Woodard for the major college scoring record

Iowa Minnesota Basketball
Posted at 7:16 AM, Feb 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-29 09:16:37-05

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Caitlin Clark has another career record on her astounding resume: the most points by any major college women's player to ever take the court.

For Hawkeyes coach Lisa Bluder and her peers, this one matters the most.

Iowa's superstar guard scored 33 points to lead the sixth-ranked Hawkeyes to a 108-60 romp of Minnesota, pushing her past Lynette Woodard on the all-time list with 3,650 points.

“Tonight is the night of the real record,” said Bluder, who played for Northern Iowa from 1979-83. “For some reason the NCAA does not want to recognize the basketball that was played prior to 1982, and that’s wrong. We played basketball back then. They just don’t want to recognize it, and that hurts the rest of us who were playing at that time. There’s no reason why that should not be the true record.”

Earlier this month, Clark passed Kelsey Plum (3,527) as the all-time NCAA women’s scoring leader. Woodard totaled 3,649 points from 1977-81 for Kansas when the sport was under the purveyance of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, before the NCAA began sanctioning women’s basketball with the 1981-82 season.

“Maybe the NCAA will realize that now. Maybe it will be brought to their attention, and they will start recognizing those women who played in the ’70s," Bluder said. "Remember, they played with a larger basketball and no 3-point line either."

Clark left little doubt she'd get the record by dribbling left off a screen and swishing a 3-pointer from the top of the key just 13 seconds into the game. She swished her first four 3-pointers, three of them from extra deep, and had 15 points in the first 3:18 of the game.

The heat check came midway through the first quarter, a flick from the top that bounced off the back rim and prompted a half-hearted “Overrated!” chant from a few wise guys in the Minnesota student section.

Clark had 21 points at halftime. She spent most of the second half flashing her passing skills to find open teammates, but finally with 4:17 left she buried her eighth 3-pointer of the game to pass Woodard. She also set the NCAA single-season record for 3-pointers in the process and finished with the 17th triple-double of her career.

Quite a night, even for her.

And Woodard was on her mind.

“I’m just really thankful and grateful to have those players who have come before me. Yeah, it’s super special. Obviously she’s one of the best all-time," Clark said. “It just still shows the room that we have to improve, and where women’s sports is going is a really great place.”

Pete Maravich (3,667) is the all-time major college leader for either gender, just 17 points ahead of Clark. Pistol Pete played for LSU from 1967-70 and, like Woodard, in the era preceding the 3-point shot.

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Pearl Moore of Francis Marion has the overall women’s record with 4,061 points from 1975-79 at the small-college level in the AIAW. Moore had 177 points in junior college before enrolling at Francis Marion.

There are three other small-college players from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, including current University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy guard Grace Beyer, ahead of Clark.

In front of a sellout crowd of more than 14,000 fans at Williams Arena, the 11th sellout in 11 true road games this season for Clark and her crew, the Hawkeyes cruised past the Gophers to make the record more palatable for the fourth-year player.

Clark has graciously handled the spotlight on her individual feats while trying to stress the importance of team performance, with two losses in the previous four games costing Iowa an opportunity for the Big Ten regular season championship. Ohio State clinched the title on Wednesday and visits Iowa on Sunday in a clash of conference and national powerhouses.

What about Woodard?

She was a two-time Olympian and captain of the 1984 U.S. team that won the gold medal at the Summer Games in Los Angeles, a versatile player and a magnetic personality who played professionally in Italy and Japan and in 1985 became the first female member of the Harlem Globetrotters traveling hoops troupe. She played in the WNBA in 1997-98, the league's first two seasons, and was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004. Woodard was also the head coach at Winthrop for three-plus seasons from 2017-20.

In an interview with ESPN on Monday, Woodard said the NCAA is doing the pre-1981 players a disservice.

"They should respect the history. Include us and our accomplishments,” she said. “This is the era of diversity, equity and inclusion. They should include us. We deserve it.”

Up next for Clark is Maravich, the sharpshooting marvel she first learned about in high school when fans and friends would recommend she find grainy videos of his smooth stroke on YouTube for inspiration. She's even been called “Ponytailed Pete” at times.

“It’s super special just to be in the same realm of a lot of really talented players who’ve done a lot of really good things,” Clark said.

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