Iowa’s Caitlin Clark becomes NCAA Division-I all-time leading scorer for men’s and women’s basketball

Eric Levenson, CNN | 3/3/2024, 3:12 p.m.
Iowa Hawkeyes superstar guard Caitlin Clark became the NCAA’s Division-I all-time leading scorer in basketball – male or female – …
Caitlin Clark **This image is for use with this specific article only** Iowa's Caitlin Clark celebrated after breaking Pete Maravich's all-time NCAA scoring record on Sunday. Matthew Holst/Getty Images via CNN Newsource 03 Mar 24

Iowa Hawkeyes superstar guard Caitlin Clark became the NCAA’s Division-I all-time leading scorer in basketball – male or female – in a win over the Ohio State Buckeyes on Sunday, passing Hall of Famer “Pistol” Pete Maravich.

Clark entered the game needing 18 points to pass Maravich for the all-time mark of 3,667 points. She set the record with a pair of free throws in the final second of the first half. In a short halftime interview, she said the record wasn’t on her mind at the time.

“Not really, but then when they announce it and everybody screams, that’s when I knew,” she said.

Clark finished the game with 35 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds as No. 6 Iowa beat No. 2 Ohio State 93-83, giving her a career total of 3,685 points.

After the game, she said she was still “soaking it all in.”

“I’m just very thankful for all these people that are going to stick around and support us and have supported us over the course of my four years,” she said. “It probably won’t hit me until a little bit later but just gonna enjoy it with my family and my teammates and just really thankful to be in this place.”

Known for her sharpshooting ability from deep and crafty playmaking, the 22-year-old senior has become one of the biggest names ever in college sports and recently set the all-time scoring mark in NCAA women’s basketball. Her first-half performance against Ohio State on Sunday was representative of her skillset, as she took 15 shots, including 10 from deep, while adding six assists as defenders rushed to stop her.

Clark exploded onto the public consciousness last year with her unbelievable play throughout March Madness as she led Iowa to the national championship game, the first title game appearance in school history. There, Iowa fell to the LSU Tigers in a game marked by a notable spat between Clark and LSU forward Angel Reese.

Since then, Clark has developed into the dominant force in all of college basketball. Meanwhile, her popularity away from the court knows no bounds.

Clark’s University of Iowa jerseys and shirts are online retailer Fanatics’ top-selling college athlete edition since it began selling collegiate athletic apparel in 2022, the website told CNN. She’s also inked deals with Gatorade, Nike and State Farm, among others.

Her record-breaking performance Sunday earned praise from LeBron James, who holds the NBA’s scoring record. CNN Sports Analyst Christine Brennan said Clark’s feat represents a milestone moment in the history of women’s sports and has changed the way people view basketball.

“I think Caitlin is having a lot of us look at this sport that is such an American institution in a different way,” she said.

The NCAA Division-I basketball scoring record of 3,667 career points was set in 1970 by “Pistol Pete” Maravich, the Hall of Famer known for his creative playmaking, outside shooting and moptop hair. At LSU, Maravich scored over 44 points on 38 attempts per game over three seasons at a time when there was no three-point line, no shot clock and freshman were not allowed to play. He died in 1988 at the age of 40.

His son, Jaeson Maravich, told Yahoo Sports last week the records are an “apples-to-oranges comparison” but added, “I think my dad would have been a big fan of hers.”

Last month, Clark became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball, surpassing the University of Washington’s Kelsey Plum, and became the all-time leading scorer in major women’s college basketball history, surpassing Lynette Woodard, who played for Kansas under the predecessor to the NCAA.

Supernova talent

A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Clark’s commitment to her home state university in 2020 has proven a masterstroke for herself, the Hawkeyes and women’s basketball in general.

Clark was handed the reins to the Iowa offense almost immediately, averaging almost 27 points as a freshman. In her third season with the team, Iowa reached its first NCAA women’s basketball national championship game, with Clark continuing her prolific scoring while adding over 7 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game.

One of the most impressive things about Clark’s career has been her yearly progression. This season, she is averaging just over 32 points – by far the most in her career – with a solid shooting percentage (46.9%), including almost 40% from three-point range.

And, as she continued to develop, the attention on her game has only increased.

“I started in a year where it was Covid, and you’re playing in front of just your family and cardboard cutouts,” she told TNT Sports in October 2023. “And now to be in my senior year, playing in front of 15,000 people, it’s special, it’s historic.

“It’s not anything that’s really been done in women’s basketball before,” she said.

Like Steph Curry in the NBA and Sabrina Ionescu in the WNBA, Clark’s ability to hit defense-breaking three-pointers from way downtown has made her an elite talent as well as a social media darling.

Clark said last week she will enter the WNBA Draft at the end of this season, eschewing a final year of eligibility. She will likely play for the Indiana Fever after the team won the lottery for the No. 1 overall pick.