Caitlin Clark and Iowa Get Revenge, Trip to Final Four

It’s the Michael Jordan gene, and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark has it in spades. She is the best women’s college basketball player we’ve ever seen, and regardless of which of the two NCAA Tournaments you’re talking about, she is March’s – and now, April’s — biggest star. She has the killer instinct that made Jordan so deadly on the court. You may get me once, but I will move heaven and earth to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

A year ago, with the biggest television audience in the history of women’s basketball watching, Clark scored 30 points in the national championship game against LSU. But that wasn’t enough, as the Hawkeyes went down to defeat, 102-85. Monday night in the Elite 8, Clark turned it up, scoring 41 points, dishing out 12 assists, and tying a single-game record of nine made three-points. (She also set the record for most career three-pointers).

It was the performance of a champion, and it moved Iowa into another Final Four. LSU was simply no match in the rematch, losing 94-87.

“I’m sure glad you’re leaving,” said LSU head coach Kim Mulkey to Clark in the handshake line. “Girl, you’re something else. Never seen anything like it.”

None of us have, because no one like Clark has ever existed.

“The Job’s Not Finished”

Following the win, Clark and her teammates did allow themselves some time to reflect on the accomplishment. And the reality that for many of them, they are now entering the final week of their college career.

“These moments go fast. I know how fast they go,” Clark said in the locker room. “My career is almost over and I’ll never win an Elite 8 game again. Soak it in and enjoy it.”

She did enjoy it, almost as much as we did watching it. But Clark was also quick to say in her postgame interview, “The job’s not finished.”

It’s great to be back to another Final Four, to have the legions of Iowa fans, and the new fans she is making along the way, descending upon Cleveland this coming weekend for the biggest three games of the season. But as much as Clark enjoyed getting over on LSU and her rival, Angel Reese, LSU just happened to be the opponent. The return to the Final Four and being one more step towards a national championship is what mattered.

“You’re never satisfied with being in the Final Four,” Clark said. “We were really close to achieving our goal last year. Being able to get back there is amazing, and you enjoy this and soak this in. But once you get there, you kind of turn the page.

“She’s just a generational player, and she just makes everybody around her better,” said Mulkey. “It’s what the great ones do.”

The great ones, like Michael Jordan, also win championships. And that is now the task at hand for Clark, beginning Friday night against the winningest team in women’s college basketball history, UConn.

Iowa is the early 2.5-point favorite.

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