Caitlin Clark wills Iowa into Sweet 16 as Hawkeyes keep away from upset
College Football & Soccer Analyst
Well, that was an in depth name.
Caitlin Clark scored 22 factors and added 12 assists and three steals as No. 2 seed Iowa narrowly beat No. 10 Georgia, 74-66, on their residence courtroom Sunday afternoon.
It was almost deja vu for the Hawkeyes, who had been upset by a special No. 10 seed at this level within the NCAA Tournament final 12 months. That recreation needed to be on the crew’s thoughts because the Bulldogs stored issues tight.
In 2022, this similar Iowa crew (all 5 starters are the identical three years working) misplaced at residence to No. 10 Creighton, the tourney’s Cinderella who ended up advancing to the Elite Eight. Clark had a double-double in that recreation, nevertheless it wasn’t sufficient.
This time, she had extra assist. While Clark accounted for greater than half the Hawkeyes’ offense, Monika Czinano had 20 factors and 9 rebounds, Gabbie Marshall scored 15 factors, and McKenna Warnock added 14 factors and eight boards.
Georgia turned the ball over twice in 37 seconds down two with 1:07 remaining. That’s when Clark, a front-runner to win participant of the 12 months, hit a jumper to present the Hawkeyes a little bit of cushion. She then sank 4 free throws down the stretch after two Bulldog fouls within the ultimate three seconds.
Now, the Hawkeyes can take a deep breath as they transfer onto the Sweet 16, the place they’ll face the winner of Duke-Colorado in Seattle.
South Carolina continues to look unstoppable
For anybody who may need stepped away from their TVs for a few hours to get some recent air on Sunday, your NCAA Tournament replace is that this: South Carolina remains to be dominating and nonetheless very a lot within the hunt to defend its nationwide championship.
The No. 1 total seeded Gamecocks took down No. 8 seed South Florida 76-45 at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, extending their present successful streak to 40 video games, which dates again to final 12 months’s SEC title recreation loss to Kentucky.
Zia Cooke led all scorers with 21 factors, nationwide participant of the 12 months candidate Aliyah Boston had 11 factors and 11 rebounds, and Laeticia Amihere added 10 factors, six rebounds and a block.
While the ultimate rating and stat sheet would point out that this was a typical South Carolina blowout, issues had been really somewhat nervy to begin. The Bulls led after the primary quarter, making it simply the seventh time this season that the Gamecocks trailed after 10 minutes.
Before the sport, head coach Jose Fernandez mentioned that his crew wouldn’t be intimidated by the second or the environment, taking part in in Columbia in entrance of a rowdy crowd. USF beat Texas and Arkansas earlier this season when these opponents had been nationally ranked, and performed different NCAA tourney groups like NC State, Ohio State and Villanova. They additionally performed UConn shut final season, so this group knew what it was prefer to play in an enormous recreation heading into it.
“I look at it as they have all the pressure on them,” Fernandez mentioned earlier than the sport. “It’s March. Anything can happen. We’re going to do what we do and see what happens.”
The Bulls definitely examined the Gamecocks, attacking the glass, getting factors within the paint, capturing 3s and usually seeming unafraid to go proper on the reigning champs on their residence courtroom. In the primary and second quarters, South Florida performed bodily and made it tough for South Carolina to get something going inside, holding them to 12 factors within the paint once they common 44.5 factors per recreation. South Carolina held a slim 33-29 edge on the break.
Whatever glimmer of hope South Florida had that it would be capable to hold round was rapidly squashed within the third quarter.
Legendary coach Dawn Staley confirmed off her depth and used completely different combos to place the sport away. She has her beginning lineup of Boston, Cooke, Victaria Saxton, Brea Beal and Kierra Fletcher, however can tweak issues barely so as to add pace, measurement and shake issues up as the sport dictates. For instance, Bree Hall got here in off the bench and had seven factors and 6 rebounds, together with a team-high 4 offensive boards. She additionally hit a buzzer-beater to end the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter with the sport already out of hand, Amihere had a monster block on the defensive finish, received out in transition, referred to as for the ball and made a layup to present her crew a 22-point lead.
South Carolina’s bench, which is ranked first nationally averaging 36.8 PPG, scored 30 factors. As a crew, they’d 10 blocks, 4 of which got here from Saxton, and outrebounded the Bulls 55-28, together with 24 offensive boards.
Other notable South Carolina numbers embody 34 factors within the paint, 17 second likelihood factors, and holding the Bulls to 16 factors within the second half.
As Staley’s crew marches on to its ninth straight Sweet 16, the query that’s been requested all season stays: Can anyone take down the Gamecocks?
Laken Litman covers school soccer, school basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She beforehand wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the creator of “Strong Like a Woman,” printed in spring 2022 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.
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