WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Caitlin Clark took Mackey Arena by storm Wednesday night.
She drew the routine pregame cheers, the customary postgame crowd and, of course, spiced things up with all the dazzling plays in between. Heck, she even made the first 3-pointer of her career at Purdue.
Clark recorded another triple-double with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, and No. 3 Iowa made 15 3-pointers as the Hawkeyes routed Purdue 96-71.
“Somebody wished me an early birthday today, I think 12 days early so they’ve done their research,” Clark joked, referring to one of the signs in the crowd. “I’m turning 22 on the 22nd, so thank you, I appreciate that.”
Iowa certainly appreciates what Clark has done for its program — and the sport.
Her fourth triple-double of the season gave her 15 in her career, extended her NCAA Division record to 52 games with at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists while moving within 40 points of surpassing Brittney Griner for No. 4 on the NCAA’s career scoring list.
The Hawkeyes (16-1, 5-0 Big Ten) extended its winning streak to 13 since a Nov. 16 loss to Kansas State. Last year’s national runner-up also has won eight straight in this series.
“She’s just so talented, she’s got a so many weapons,” Purdue guard Abbey Ellis said. “We wanted anyone other than Caitlin to beat us. She just hit some great shots and she’s a great player.”
Ellis led the Boilermakers (9-6, 2-2) with 15 points and Caitlyn Harper added 13 as their three-game winning streak ended.
It didn’t take Clark — or her teammates — long to take charge in front of the fourth home sellout in Purdue history.
Clark made her first two 3s, quickly erasing the memory of an 0-for-6 performance from beyond the arc in her only other trip to West Lafayette. She finished 6 of 14 from beyond the arc as the Hawkeyes recorded their second-highest single-game total of 3s all season.
The only real miscue for Clark came late in the third quarter when she drew a technical foul.
By then, it didn’t matter, though.
Five different Iowa players combined for seven 3s in the first quarter as it built a 29-18 lead. The Hawkeyes extended the halftime margin to 51-37 and the Boilermakers couldn’t get closer than 11 in the second half.
Iowa: Clark’s passing and shooting skills make this team one of the sport’s feature attractions. But this is not a one-player team. Five Iowa players scored in double figures and six made 3s. If Clark continues getting that kind of help, the Hawkeyes could make a second straight Final Four run.
Purdue: Coach Katie Gearlds has the Boilermakers on the right trajectory, though this team still has a long journey to match a team like Iowa. Purdue did a solid job trading jabs early. But the Boilermakers stingy, trademark defense couldn’t keep pace with Iowa.
BOOS FOR REFS
Clark was cheered routinely, especially loudly after a nifty behind-the-back pass led to an easy layup. So why were the fans booing when she made a 3 from the Keady Court logo with 5.6 seconds left in the first half? The refs called a foul that could have resulted in a four-point play. Instead, they erased the basket, ruling it occurred on the floor — a call even Purdue fans disagreed with.
Iowa: The 2022-23 Big Ten regular season and tourney champs meet Saturday when No. 14 Indiana visits Iowa City.
Purdue: The Boilermakers are making their second trip in two weeks to Maryland. Last week’s game was postponed because of a leak at the Xfinity Center and has been rescheduled for Sunday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll