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Iowa’s Caitlin Clark breaks NCAA women’s basketball all-time scoring record – and drops a career-high 49 to boot

<i>Michael Reaves/Getty Images</i><br/>University of Iowa star Caitlin Clark has become the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball Thursday night during a game in Iowa City.
Michael Reaves/Getty Images
University of Iowa star Caitlin Clark has become the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball Thursday night during a game in Iowa City.

By Jacob Lev, Jason Hanna and George Ramsay, CNN

(CNN) — University of Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball in spectacular fashion Thursday, drilling a signature deep 3-pointer to break the old record – on a night that also saw her score a personal one-game high of 49 points.

Clark, 22, surpassed Kelsey Plum’s previous record of 3,527 career points in the first quarter of a 106-89 home win against the Michigan Wolverines, briefly putting the contest on hold as teammates swarmed to hug her and the crowd gave a rousing ovation.

Needing eight points to break Plum’s record heading into Thursday’s game, she accomplished the feat just over two minutes in, scoring her team’s first three buckets including the memorable record-breaker: a long 3-pointer from near the center court logo on a fast break.

Clark ended Thursday with 3,569 career points and could set the all-time scoring record in men’s and women’s NCAA basketball history before the season’s end. The late Pete Maravich, who played at Louisiana State for three seasons from 1967 to 1970, holds that record – 3,667 points.

Her 49 points Thursday also was a one-game best for her in college, and a one-game best for any University of Iowa women’s basketball player.

Afterward, Clark’s teammates and coaches wore T-shirts bearing her name and number, and held up freshly distributed copies of The Des Moines Register with a picture of a smiling Clark and a headline reading, “Unmatched.”

Fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena chanted, “One more year!” – a nod to the fourth-year player’s option to remain at the collegiate level for a fifth year because of the Covid-19 pandemic’s effects on prior NCAA seasons. Clark is projected to be selected first overall by the Indiana Fever if she enters the 2024 WNBA draft.

“Thankful for everybody that came out tonight and supports our team night in and night out,” Clark said after the game, addressing the crowd. “This wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for these girls standing right here.

“My coaches, my family … let me be me every single day, and I’m just lucky I get to wear Iowa on my chest and Coach (Lisa) Bluder lets me be Caitlin. Just really grateful, but we got a lot more to winning to do, so let’s go.”

Bluder, Iowa’s head coach, told the crowd it was fitting that Clark broke the all-time NCAA women’s scoring record by hitting a deep 3-pointer – a shot for which she’s known.

“And then if you’re going to go, might as well keep going and get 49 (points),” Bluder said. “So, I know all of you are thankful that you’ve been able to support her and we are so thankful that we had the opportunity to coach her. She’s special.”

Two-time WNBA champion Plum, who played for the University of Washington from 2013 to 2017, had already congratulated Clark on social media a few days ago for surpassing her record, but later added that she had done so too early.

Clark already was the only Division I women’s player to have reached 3,000 points and 1,000 assists, and recently became the Big Ten Conference’s all-time leading scorer when she passed Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell.

Ticket demand for Thursday’s historic game in Iowa City skyrocketed ahead of the contest. According to online ticket marketplace TickPick, the overall average purchase price of a seat was $394 and the “get-in” price was listed as $337, 206% more expensive than the same game back in November.

TickPick also said that this was the second most expensive women’s basketball ticket in history behind what could be Clark’s last career regular season home game against the Ohio State Buckeyes next month.

Before Thursday’s game, at Iowa’s weekly news conference, Clark was asked if she ever thought she could be in a position to surpass the career scoring record.

“I’m somebody that has really big dreams, goals and aspirations, but I think to put it on this level and this magnitude, that would be crazy for me to say,” Clark answered. “So I would say, ‘No.’

“But obviously, I dreamed of doing really big things – playing in front of big crowds, going to the Final Four, maybe not quite on this level. I think that’s really hard to dream and, obviously, you can always exceed expectations, even your own. I think that’s been one of the coolest parts.”

This season, Clark and Iowa are looking to end the season on a high by claiming a first ever women’s basketball national championship.

The Hawkeyes reached their first ever title game last year but were beaten by Angel Reese and the LSU Tigers.

Iowa (23-3 overall; 12-2 in the Big Ten) has four regular-season games remaining.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Wayne Sterling and Sam Joseph contributed to this report.

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