Iowa junior forward Caitlin Clark registered the first ever 40-point triple-double in Division I NCAA Tournament history during Iowa's 97-83 Elite Eight win over Louisville. The victory sent the Hawkeyes to their first Final Four since 1993.
Clark posted a ridiculous stat line: 41 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
"Are you kidding? It's mind boggling," head coach Lisa Bluder said during the postgame press conference.
What CAN’T she do?! 🤯@CaitlinClark22 secures the 𝐅𝐈𝐑𝐒𝐓 40+ point TRIPLE-DOUBLE in tournament history with 41 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists in tonight’s Elite Eight win over Louisville 🔥#MarchMadness x @IowaWBB pic.twitter.com/K8hupFjrwW— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessWBB) March 27, 2023
Bluder said she could only describe Clark's performance as "spectacular." Meanwhile, Clark still needed some time to process the magnitude of her achievement. She said her focus was on taking her team to the Final Four, and after she accomplished that, her next mission was finding the game ball and giving it to her parents to sneak back to the hotel.
"I hope they got out of the arena in time, so the NCAA can't chase 'em down. But I told 'em to run," she said.
That was Clark's fifth triple-double of the season and 11th of her career, second best in NCAA basketball history after former Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu's 26 during her time at Oregon. Clark is now also the first player in Division I basketball history -- men's or women's -- with 900 points and 300 assists in a single season. She gets double and triple teamed often, but Clark consistently makes tough shots. She has now reached double figures in 88 consecutive games, best active streak in Division I basketball.
Clark is one of the top three scorers in women's basketball this season, but she is arguably the best offensive player too as she is the sole leader in assists, which help facilitate the offense for her entire team. That is the key reason why Iowa has the best scoring offense in the nation. She put on a masterclass on Sunday.
Louisville came out with a punch and found an early 8-0 lead. Clark helped her team fight back and registered 22 points and eight assists as her team led 48-43 at halftime. That means she was responsible for 88% of her team's offense in those two quarters. She didn't slow down the rest of the night and was part of 72% of the Hawkeyes final 97 points.
Beautiful basketball 🤩@CaitlinClark22 x @McKennaWarnock pic.twitter.com/Q7fzhGruFq— Iowa Women's Basketball (@IowaWBB) March 27, 2023
The key, she said, is balance and teamwork.
"I mean, 12 assists, that's my teammates making shots right there," she said. "McKenna was huge in the first half. They were kind of helping off of her, doubling on to me, and she made some big shots for us. And then I thought Gabbie was tremendous in the second half, and then Mon came up big too for us. So a total team effort. And I pride myself in doing a lot of different things for this team."
Clark said this was probably the biggest game she has ever been a part of, but that she felt "it was one of the most calmness" she has ever felt before playing. Just as she visualized getting to the Final Four when Bluder first recruited her years ago, Clark had visualized herself winning this game.
"I believed and I visualized to be in this press conference with a hat and a shirt around me. So here we are," she said.