March Madness: Caitlin Clark overcomes slow start to advance past Holy Cross, Iowa

Caitlin Clark and Iowa are making progress in the NCAA women's tournament, but they first had to overcome a slow start against No. 16 Holy Cross.

Clark posted 27 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds, three steals and a block as he exited the 91-65 victory with just over four minutes left. After another impressive performance, the 22-year-old was candid about Iowa's room for improvement.

“I thought [Holy Cross] Made a lot of shots and I thought they competed well. Gotta give them credit,” Clark said on the postgame broadcast. “I don't know if we really played our best basketball. Apparently a little rust. I thought we could have executed our offense a little better. They really compressed the paint, but I thought we responded well. We always had the answer.”

Holy Cross entered Saturday's tournament with all the odds. Holy Cross advanced to the first round by defeating UT-Martin in a play-in game Thursday night, putting it at the heart of Kaitlyn Clark Mania. Ranked No. 1, the Hawkeyes had home-court advantage in Iowa City, Iowa, where a sellout crowd of 15,000 rabid fans flocked to see Clark. Although Holy Cross head coach Maureen Magarity's young daughters were in attendance and rooting for the Iowa superstar. It was a far cry from Holy Cross Stadium in Massachusetts, which seats only 3,536.

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) adjusts her headband during the first half of a first-round college basketball game against Holy Cross in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 23, 2024, in Iowa City, Iowa.  (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark recorded a triple-double in Saturday's first-round college basketball game against Holy Cross in the NCAA tournament. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

Somehow, the Crusaders opened up an edge, ending the first quarter down 23-21.

They immediately brought physicality and forced nine turnovers in the first half, six of which were committed by Clark. He appeared to be hit in the face in the second quarter and officials deemed the foul excessive after a review. As she made both of her free throws, her visible frustration built from the spot.

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Clark finished the first half with 13 points. He converted on just two of his eight field-goal attempts, distributing the ball with seven assists. She left the court at halftime He got into a heated argument with the officer. Clarke was apparently present before that meeting An argument with his father In the meeting. She was angry Basketball headbutt In a separate event.

“I want her to not get frustrated,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said during an on-court interview. “We want assists. I mean, we want her to pass the ball. She's one of the best in the country. We'll show that today.”

In the third quarter, the Hawkeyes seemed to find their footing, which carried over into the rest of the game. Iowa was bolstered by senior guard Kate Martin's 15 points and 14 rebounds, as well as junior forward Addison O'Grady's 14 points off the bench.

The Hawkeyes ultimately completed a dominant win without one of their best supporting players, Hannah Stuelke. The sophomore forward recorded two rebounds in 10 minutes and was shut out for the entire second half. “She was sick and we weren't going to use her if we didn't have to,” Bluder told ESPN. Holly Rowe Post game.

Iowa can rest until Monday when it faces No. 8 West Virginia and No. 9 Princeton.

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