Caitlin Clark breaks Pete Maravich’s all-time NCAA record

By | March 3, 2024

IOWA CITY, Iowa — It’s Caitlin Clark … and everyone else.

Clark officially stands alone at the top of the record books after storming past Pete Maravich to become the all-time leading scorer in women’s and men’s basketball in NCAA Division I.

The Iowa point guard entered her final collegiate game of the regular season against Ohio State on Sunday and needed 18 points to pass Maravich. She scored 11 straight Iowa points in a second quarter and then hit two free throws just before halftime to break the record.

Clark was awarded the free throws after officials called a dead-ball technical foul on Ohio State’s Cotie McMahon for contesting a call with 0.3 seconds left in the second quarter. She hit the first to reach 17 points and tie Maravich. She then hit her second to pass Maravich and extend Iowa’s lead to 47-39.

Clark told Fox Sports’ Allison Williams at halftime that she wasn’t thinking about the record while she was on the line.

“Not really,” Clark said when asked if the record went through her head while she was filming. “But when they announced it and everyone screamed, that’s when I knew. Pretty cool.”

Clark passed Maravich in a high-stakes game independent of her record quest. Her sixth-ranked Hawkeyes hosted No. 2 Ohio State in the season finale for both, with NCAA Tournament seeding implications.

Iowa won the game 93-83, securing the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament with a conference record of 15-3. Ohio State remains No. 1 after falling to 16-2. Clark finished with a game-high 35 points to go along with nine assists, six rebounds and three steals. She shot 10 of 26 from the field and 6 of 17 from 3-point range.

The Buckeyes fought to keep things competitive after digging a 71-54 hole in the third quarter. But they could never close the gap further than eight points.

How high will Clark set the record?

Clark averaged 32.2 points per game in his career, staying on pace for the record that has been largely considered untouchable for the past 54 years. Maravich scored 3,667 points during a three-year career at LSU that ended in 1970.

Clark also has time to add more to her career total. Iowa plays in the Big Ten tournament in Minneapolis this week, which means three more games for the Hawkeyes. A repeat of the NCAA championship game in April would add six more. With her scoring average, Clark was able to add almost 300 more points to the total.

The Hawkeyes should remain in the top four of the NCAA Tournament and host the first two games in Iowa City. The super-regional locations are Portland and Albany, New York.

But this was her final regular-season home game after announcing late last week that she would enter the WNBA Draft, waiving the extra year of eligibility under the COVID-19 waiver. The Indiana Fever have the No. 1 pick and fans will be in attendance at the draft for the first time since 2016, when the Seattle Storm selected four-time NCAA champion Breanna Stewart.

Ahead of Senior Day festivities, Nike unveiled a six-story-tall Clark sign in downtown Iowa City. Girls leaned out of the backseat to take a photo of the crew hanging the banner, and passing fans posed with it.

The company, one of Clark’s many endorsement deals, also posted signs with quotes about the growth of Clark’s career and the fandom she has built over the past four years.

The first from 2009: “Caitlin Clark should not be playing in a boys tournament.”

And as of 2023, “Caitlin Clark is the biggest star in basketball.”

How Clark and Maravich compare

Clark and Maravich played in vastly different eras. Maravich’s era did not have a three-point line and freshmen were not eligible for the varsity. He attempted 38.1 shots per game as the main offensive weapon that head coach Peter “Press” Maravich, his father, relied on. He averaged 44.2 points per game over an 83-game career.

Pistol Pete’s legendary brand spent decades on lists of records unlikely to disappear. Detroit Mercy guard Antoine Davis fell a bucket short last year, but many critics dismissed the threat since Davis was in his fifth season. He scored 3,664 points in 143 games, an average of 25.4 points per game, while shooting 40.8% overall.

Clark entered her senior season at Iowa with 2,717 career points, including 1,055 as a junior during Iowa’s run to the Final Four. She came in as a consistent 27 ppg scorer, but took on more of the load this season following the graduations of Monika Czinano and McKenna Warnock. Her overall shooting clip of 46.9% and 39.5% from 3 are in line with previous seasons. She averaged a career-high 22.6 tries per game this year. She has attempted more than 30 shots in a match six times, and never more than 34.

Nearly half of her points (1,509 points, 41% of her total) came from beyond the arc, and many from beyond 25 feet. The shots are colloquially known as “logo 3s” and are what has attracted casual fans to watch basketball in Iowa. But they are never people of desperation. Clark practices from far away and has developed it into muscle memory. It was an up-close shot of the logo that won her the all-time women’s scoring crown and is now highlighted on the Carver-Hawkeye Arena floor.

Caitlin Clark’s details

The all-time NCAA record is the latest in a month of rising to the top of the lists. She passed Kelsey Plum for first on the NCAA Women’s Division I all-time scoring list with a career-high 49 points against Michigan at home on February 15. It was an arena record for a single match. The location where she made the record-breaking shot is marked with her name and a No. 22 logo.

“I’m actually very grateful to pass that baton,” Plum, a two-time WNBA champion with the Las Vegas Aces, said before the game. “I’m very happy for her.”

Plum scored 3,527 points during a four-year career in Washington that ended in 2017. It’s the women’s record that the NCAA honors, but it wasn’t the most points scored by a woman in college at the big-school level. Lynette Woodard scored 3,649 points playing at Kansas from 1977 to 1981, when the AIAW ruled women’s track and field. The NCAA did not sponsor women’s sports until 1982, a full decade after Title IX was passed, and with few exceptions does not include AIAW-era statistics in its record books.

Clark passed Woodard’s mark and held the “real record,” in the eyes of head coach Lisa Bluder, with a 33-point triple-double against Minnesota on Wednesday night.

“The NCAA didn’t want to recognize women and what they did in the 1980s,” Clark said after breaking Woodard’s record. “I think it just speaks to the foundation that these players have laid for us to have opportunities to be able to play in environments like this, in front of audiences like this. Without people like them, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do what I do every night.”

Other women have scored more points, but at a lower level of competition. Pearl Moore scored 4,061 points while playing at Francis Marion in the late 1970s and is credited with the “small school” record. Grace Beyer, a fifth-year student at the College of Health Sciences and Pharmacy, broke the NAIA scoring record last month.

Clark has set several school, Big Ten and Division I records for three-point shooting, field goal making and the like. She’s flirting with the single-season scoring average (33.6 ppg, set in 1989 by Mississippi Valley State’s Patricia Hoskins) and career scoring average (28.4 ppg by Hoskins from 1986-89). Clark is averaging 28.3 ppg over her career heading into Sunday.

The Iowa native is the first to score 3,000 points with 1,000 assists. She remains sixth in all-time assists with a chance to move up after adding her 1,049 assists heading into Sunday’s match. Suzie McConnell (1,307) is the record holder, followed by Andrea Nagy (1,165), Courtney Vandersloot (1,118), Sabrina Ionescu (1,091) and Tine Freil (1,088).

Her 17 career triple-doubles trail only Sabrina Ionescu (26), which is five more than BYU men’s leader Kyle Collinsworth (12).

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