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Iowa's Caitlin Clark passes Pete Maravich to set the all-time NCAA scoring record


It was a weekend for the record books in basketball. In the NBA, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James became the first player to score 40,000 points in a career. While in the NCAA, University of Iowa women's basketball star Caitlin Clark became college basketball's all-time Division I scoring leader yesterday. The sixth-ranked Hawkeyes defeated No. 2 Ohio State. Right before halftime, Clark broke the scoring record for men - or women - previously held by Pete Maravich at LSU. Greg Echlin has more from Iowa City.

GREG ECHLIN, BYLINE: For each Iowa home game, Hawkeye fans know they're in for history, but yesterday they knew it would be extra special. The crowd was so loud, her name was drowned out during the introductions.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: A 6-foot senior from West Des Moines, Iowa, number 22...


ECHLIN: Caitlin Clark averages 32 points a game, so there was no doubt she'd score the 18 points needed to surpass Pete Maravich. But in the tightly contested first half, Clark got her record-breaking point not shooting a long range three she's known for, but on a free throw. The fans were on their feet, and Clark heard them.


CAITLIN CLARK: It was cool to hear everybody just, like, start screaming.

ECHLIN: Keenly observing from courtside was former University of Kansas great Lynette Woodard, whose all-time women's record Clark eclipsed last week. Woodard says she was glad to see Clark break Maravich's record, too.

LYNETTE WOODARD: It was totally amazing. We knew that she was going for the record. Caitlin - she was focused all the way. I watched every movement.

ECHLIN: While growing up, Clark says she would not have imagined being the all-time scoring leader.


CLARK: It's really, like, crazy to think about.

ECHLIN: Clark had always been confident that she was a very good player, but being in the conversation with Woodard and Maravich, both of whom played decades ago, before the three-point era, was unfathomable.


CLARK: Just to be in the same room of all these players that have been so successful, whether it's Pete or whether it's Kelsey Plum or Lynette Woodard, like, all these people have just given so much to the game.

ECHLIN: Clark's scoring record also means a lot to her head coach, Lisa Bluder, who's in her 24th year leading the Hawkeyes.


LISA BLUDER: I'm just so happy for Caitlin, and I think she represents the university, our sport. She's such a good ambassador.

ECHLIN: Clark announced last week that she'll enter the WNBA draft early. For fans like Jan Myers, who traveled five hours from the small town of Spencer, Iowa, to see Clark play, she understands the decision.

JAN MYERS: I wasn't exactly surprised. I didn't want her to get hurt, you know, before she had the chance to go on to her biggest goals, I guess.

ECHLIN: But Myers also knows that Hawkeye home games won't be the same next season. Though it was the last regular season game Clark will add to her scoring record with the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. Then one day when it's all over, Clark says...


CLARK: Hopefully somebody comes after me and breaks my records and I can be there supporting them. And that's what makes the game of basketball so fun. But, yeah, it'll definitely hit me at some point

ECHLIN: For now, Caitlin Clark hopes to lead the Hawkeyes to their second straight trip to the Women's Final Four before her pro career begins.

For NPR News, I'm Greg Echlin in Iowa City.

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Greg Echlin