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Friday, April 19, 2024

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark delivers a efficiency for the ages

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That felt just like the March Insanity we all know and crave. Upsets are unbelievable, actually, and Iowa beating South Carolina was an upset, however solely due to the Gamecocks’ good 36-0 document and 42-game successful streak total. This wasn’t David beating Goliath. It was LeBron James taking Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Co. to the finals provided that Cleveland had overwhelmed San Antonio as an alternative of Detroit to get there.

Caitlin Clark is to not be fucked with, however she’s additionally not an underdog. Generally, the crew with the most important alpha wins, and Clark was the apex predator Friday night time. The Hawkeyes have work left (LSU goes to pose a variety of the identical issues that South Carolina did), however I wanted an analogy with an acceptable degree of hyperbole, and I don’t suppose I’m flawed with the Clark-LeBron comparability (efficiency smart), or the South Carolina-San Antonio similarities.

Clark completed with 41 factors, eight assists, and 6 boards. It was her second-straight sport of 40-plus, and he or she scored or assisted on each bucket within the fourth quarter, and on about 75 p.c of her crew’s area targets total. The ladies’s participant of the 12 months has been in comparison with Diana Taurasi, and that’s a wonderfully apt comparability. Nonetheless, Taurasi was the chief of a South Carolina-type juggernaut at UConn and by no means needed to do (no less than collegiately) what was required of Clark.

This Iowa team isn’t even a one-seed, and as good as Clark’s supporting cast played, nobody took more than eight shots. You couldn’t blame them though as the only player capable of holding her own against the intimidating Gamecock defense was the best player in the damn game.

South Carolina didn’t play poorly, they just got beat

Iowa definitely got some help from the zebras, who weren’t exactly whistle-happy but still tagged Aliyah Boston with two quick fouls that led to substantial time on the bench in the first half. Clark also picked up a couple of early fouls, but coach Lisa Bluder stuck with her star and was rewarded with smart, selective defense and a one-point lead at the break.

Dawn Staley didn’t have to gamble with her best option, and the rest for Boston worked out as SC outscored the Hawkeyes, 24-16, in the second quarter with the help of Zia Cooke and a relentless attack on the offensive glass. The Gamecock front line big-sistered Iowa on the glass all night, resulting in a 49-25 rebounding advantage. The only issue with Staley on Friday was a lack of adjustments regarding some perimeter players that Iowa was begging to shoot. To be fair, I’m not sure what she was supposed to do other than stick with the ladies who got her there. I’m merely stating that Clark was 10 to 15 feet off shooters at times, and you can’t let her just conserve energy for the offensive end. Regardless, South Carolina’s 4-of-20 outing from deep wasn’t much worse than Iowa’s 7-of-23.

It was just one of those games against one of those players that was not meant to be, and it happened at the worst possible moment on the biggest possible stage with a shitload at stake. This loss is going to sting for as long as the night will be remembered for Clark’s heroics, and it’ll hurt even more if Iowa doesn’t finish the job.

Kim Mulkey’s closet and the Bayou Barbie are the perfect foils for Iowa’s crazy run through this tournament, and I don’t want to hear a single fucking word about the standard of this March Insanity. Should you’re disillusioned, you’ve been watching the flawed event.

The star attraction is Caitlin Clark, and hopefully, she has yet another good efficiency left in her.

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