Clark’s March Madness marches on, Iowa women beat Colorado

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 9:05 PM CDT
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SEATTLE (AP) — Caitlin Clark scored 31 points and No. 2 seed Iowa shook disappointments the past two seasons and reached the Elite Eight of the women’s NCAA Tournament with an 87-77 win over Colorado in the Seattle 4 Regional semifinals on Friday night.

After two straight tournaments where Clark’s season ended in the round of 16 and the round of 32, the Hawkeyes will play for a chance at just the second Final Four berth in school history on Sunday.

Clark was the catalyst for Iowa’s big second half, and the first-team All-American finished 11 of 22 shooting with four 3-pointers and eight assists. It was her 11th game this season scoring at least 30 points.

But she had plenty of help, especially after Clark sat a chunk of the first half after picking up two fouls. She had 13 points at the break.

Monika Czinano added 15 points, including a key basket in the paint with 1:10 remaining. Kate Martin scored 16 and McKenna Warnock scored 10. Iowa shot 54% for the game and 59% in the second half.

Iowa (29-6) will face either No. 5 seed Louisville or No. 8 seed Mississippi in the regional final on Sunday. It’s the fifth Elite Eight appearance for the Hawkeyes, but their only Final Four appearance came in 1993.

Frida Formann led Colorado (25-9) with 21 points, but 19 of those came in the first half when her shooting carried the Buffaloes. But Formann was shut down in the second half and fouled out with 6:37 remaining.

Colorado pulled within 76-70 on Quay Miller’s 3-pointer with 4:16 remaining and the deficit was down to 78-74 after Sherrod’s steal and layup with 1:40 left. But that was the last push by the Buffaloes as Czinano scored in the paint and Iowa made seven free throws in the final minute.

Aaronette Vonleh added 13 points and Miller had 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Buffs.

Colorado lingered far longer than expected, but it was Iowa’s run in the early stages of the third quarter and keyed by its All-American that finally gave the Hawkeyes some cushion.

Clark started a string of 11 straight points for the Hawkeyes with a driving basket, added a 3-pointer off a loose ball and followed by a steal and layup that gave Iowa a 54-42 lead and forced Colorado coach JR Payne to burn two timeouts in 2 minutes.

Iowa eventually pushed the lead to 62-47 and Colorado could never catch up over the final 15 minutes leaving Clark and her team celebrating before the large Iowa contingent of fans walked off the court.