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Caitlin Clark battles via West Virginia’s bodily protection, nevertheless it could be the most effective plan to gradual her down

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13 seconds into Monday evening’s matchup between Iowa and West Virgina, Caitlin Clark tried to drive to the basket and was fouled by Mountaineers guard JJ Quinerly. When play resumed, Clark once more compelled her approach into the paint. This time, there was no whistle to bail her out as she flailed round on the rim. 

These two moments set the tone for what was to be one of many hardest nights of the season for each Clark and the Hawkeyes. They finally outlasted the Mountaineers, 64-54, to earn a visit to the Candy 16. Clark completed with 32 factors to surpass Kelsey Plum for the NCAA Division I single-season scoring file. 

However this was not the “Caitlin Clark present” everybody has turn out to be accustomed to seeing. Those that tuned in to see that have been as a substitute handled to a lesson on aggressive and bodily protection from the Mountaineers, who made Clark work for each single level and fell simply wanting the largest upset of the event. Clark shot 8-of-22 from the sphere for her sixth-least environment friendly recreation of the season, and practically had as many turnovers (six) as made baskets. 

“I do know I’ve given every thing to this program, similar with these two and there is a lot to be pleased with,” Clark stated. “There was a number of highs, a number of lows and that is what makes these moments so particular. I am simply grateful, I am grateful and gonna soak this in.” 

All over the place Clark went, she was bumped and pestered, and the frustration was evident early when she was referred to as for an offensive foul and made the “flopping” gesture on her approach again down the ground. Even the few pictures she did hit within the first quarter have been troublesome 3-pointers off the dribble. It hardly ever obtained any simpler the remainder of the evening. 

The third quarter was the one time Clark obtained scorching all recreation lengthy, and it is no shock the Hawkeyes took management consequently. They received that body 22-14 to take a double-digit lead into the fourth. Neither she nor the crew was capable of hold that momentum going into the ultimate body. 

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Iowa did not rating for the primary 5:14 of the fourth quarter, and solely made one discipline aim in the whole 10 minutes. That was largely as a result of Clark merely could not shake West Virginia’s perimeter protection. All of her appears have been contested and began transferring additional behind the road. 

By the three-minute mark, the Mountaineers had tied the sport. That is when Clark lastly determined to get to the basket, and he or she drew a foul to place the Hawkeyes again in entrance. She would reside on the line the remainder of the way in which, making eight free throws down the stretch to place the sport away. 

As nice as Clark is — and he or she actually is among the greatest gamers faculty basketball has ever seen — this recreation was additional proof that huge, bodily defenses could cause her issues on sure nights. It was additionally additional proof that you simply higher match her on the opposite finish, as a result of the factors are coming, a technique or one other. 

“I believe we used our crowd,” Clark stated. “We gave up a 10-0 run to start out the quarter, however this crew was by no means flustered. That simply speaks to our expertise. Could not be happier for this group. We needed to exit on a excessive observe [at Carver-Hawkeye Arena].” 

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