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Caitlin Clark says it’s hard to wrap her head around being called NCAA Div. I top scorer

Clark, who scored 35 points against the Buckeyes and built her reputation on the 3-point shot, will go into the Big Ten Tournament with 3,685 in 130 games

Caitlin Clark
Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) reacts with fans after breaking the NCAA women's all-time scoring record during the first quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Feb 15, 2024; Iowa City, Iowa.Jeffrey Becker (USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con)

Caitlin Clark broke three major college basketball scoring records in less than three weeks. Finally, the Iowa superstar can take a breath. “I’m so focused on helping this team win and be so great, it’s hard to wrap my head around everything going on,” she said. “I’m trying to soak in the moment.”

Clark’s dizzying regular season ended Sunday with her passing Pete Maravich as the NCAA Division I overall scoring leader during the sixth-ranked Hawkeyes’ 93-83 win over No. 2 Ohio State in Iowa City.

Four days earlier, she took down Lynette Woodard’s major college women’s scoring record, and two weeks before that she broke Kelsey Plum’s Division I record.

Maravich’s 54-year-old record was considered the holy grail, and many observers will want to put an asterisk on Clark’s accomplishment because Maravich amassed his 3,667 points in 83 games over three seasons at LSU (1967-70) and without having a 3-point line or shot clock.

Clark, who scored 35 points against the Buckeyes and built her reputation on the 3-point shot, will go into the Big Ten Tournament with 3,685 in 130 games.

“I hope it advances women’s sports even more,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said, “but to me, you don’t have to break a man’s record to be recognized. You don’t have to do that. Breaking Lynette’s record was significant. So to me, I admire ‘Pistol Pete’ but at the same time, I just don’t want that to be the bar for women’s athletics.”

Clark, who announced last week that she would enter for the 2024 WNBA draft, said she hopes she’s not just remembered for setting records at Iowa.

“I hope people remember me for the way I played with a smile on my face, my competitive fire,” she said. “Sure, they can remember the wins but also the fun me and my teammates had together.”

Attention on Clark has increased each season since she arrived at Iowa in 2020, and the spotlight has been especially bright since she led the Hawkeyes to the NCAA championship game last year.

Her name, image and likeness deals with Nike, Gatorade and State Farm, among others, have made her one of the most visible athletes, college or pro, in the nation. Her pursuit of scoring records, combined with her glitzy playing style, have brought media attention in an amount that would overwhelm most 22-year-olds.

“The biggest part of my maturity and growth has been being able to handle that and balance everything going on around me and the noise around me,” she said, “and obviously it can be hard at times. But I would never change that for the world.”

The Hawkeyes are off until the Big Ten Tournament starts later this week. They’re the No. 2 seed, meaning they don’t play until Friday’s quarterfinals in Minneapolis.

She’ll go into the postseason chasing conference and national championships, not scoring records.

That she will go into her final games at Iowa atop the NCAA’s all-time scoring chart is something she is yet to fully grasp.

“It’s really crazy to think about,” she said. “If you had told me that before my college career started, I would have laughed in your face and been like, ‘No, you’re insane,’ " she said. “I’ve always been able to score the ball. People don’t understand how many players came before me and were able to score the ball at such a high rate and do it for teams that were really, really good.”

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