Caitlin Clark leads Iowa past Colorado, sets up rematch vs. defending champion LSU

The rematch is happening.

With Iowa’s 89-68 win over Colorado, preceded by LSU’s 78-69 win over UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Saturday, the Hawkeyes and Tigers will face off in what will be an epic showdown in the Elite Eight on Monday night (7 p.m. ET on ESPN).

To quickly jog everyone’s memory, LSU crushed Iowa, 102-85, in last year’s national championship game, which in return set the women’s college basketball world on fire. There was trash talk, there was gamesmanship, there was Angel Reese pointing to her ring finger as she walked by Caitlin Clark. 

And now we’ll get to see it all again after the Hawkeyes cruised to a victory over the Buffaloes.

Iowa got off to a hot start on Saturday afternoon in Albany, New York. After the first quarter, when the Hawkeyes led 22-14, Colorado head coach JR Payne told ESPN’s Holly Rowe that Clark has “one of the best court visions in America.” 

The college basketball universe is very aware that Clark can shoot and score – she became the Division I all-time scoring leader in men’s and women’s basketball earlier this year. But her assists in transition are still somehow under-discussed. Clark is the first player – in both men’s and women’s hoops – to total 3,000 points and 1,000 assists in a career. 

Clark had 15 points and eight assists by halftime and Iowa held a comfortable 48-35 lead. But she also had two fouls, picking up her second early in the second quarter. Coach Lisa Bluder kept her in the game, though.

“I think it’s trust,” Clark told the broadcast when asked why she thought her coach didn’t sit her on the bench. “I think it’s just being her point guard for four years, she can trust me with that. Obviously, they made some good subs to get me out on defense and not give up fouls. It’s going to be key down the stretch. We gotta keep our arms out and not foul.”

Which is what Iowa did. Clark controlled the game and only tacked on one more foul. The Buffs made some runs in the second half, but nothing that actually put the Hawkeyes in jeopardy. 

Clark finished with 29 points and smoothly fed her teammates all night, racking up 15 assists with just two turnovers. With this performance, Clark passed Courtney Vandersloot for third place on the all-time career assists list. 

It wasn’t just the Clark show, though. Sydney Affolter, who has transitioned into the starting lineup in place of the injured Molly Davis, scored 15 points. She and Clark were in lockstep all game, and collaborated for a variety of dazzling plays just like this:

Gabbie Marshall and Kate Martin scored 14 points apiece and were both clutch from 3, while Hannah Stuelke added 11 points and 10 rebounds in the win.

Now, in what can arguably be described as the most highly anticipated game of the NCAA Tournament, Iowa will take on LSU in the Elite Eight. Clark is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft on April 15, but her goal is to win Iowa’s first national championship before then. 

Standing in her way is the “good villain,” which Reese referred to LSU as after its Sweet 16 win earlier on Saturday. 

“They’re really good at every single position,” Clark said of LSU. “We know all about that, obviously, we played them last year. But you know, we’re gonna have to find a way to rebound. They rebound the ball really well. We’re gonna enjoy this one and then turn the page and look at our scout tonight and get ready for that.”

Although all the hype and storylines will be sure to highlight Clark and Reese’s perceived rivalry, these two elite players have actually been quite supportive of each other all season. Reese tweeted a congratulatory message to Clark after she broke the all-time scoring record last month.

“It’s so good for women’s basketball,” Clark told the broadcast. “And to be honest, I’ve watched a lot of LSU games and what they’re doing for women’s basketball and the way their fans support them is tremendous. It’s been fun to watch, and they’ve had a great season, so I know it’s gonna be a great game. Both teams are gonna be ready to go. It’s just gonna be great for our game, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of “Strong Like a Woman,” published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her at @LakenLitman.

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