Iowa’s Caitlin Clark wants more focus on team during final stretch now that NCAA record is broken

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — More scoring records are in sight for Caitlin Clark, but right now the Iowa superstar is looking forward to a break from the chase.

She passed Kesley Plum as the NCAA women’s career scoring leader Thursday night, putting up a school-record 49 points in a 106-89 victory over Michigan and running her career total to 3,569.

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said it was a relief to have Clark’s pursuit of the NCAA record end.

“It’s been a little bit of a distraction, but a good distraction, right?” Bluder said. “You want these kinds of distractions for your team. But at the same time, it’s time now for us to really focus on making our team better and getting ready for Indiana next week, the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.”

With Clark having become the face of college basketball, the spotlight has been on the fourth-ranked Hawkeyes for a year.

They reached the national championship game for the first time, losing to LSU in a game that set a television viewership record and is remembered for the “you can’t see me” gesture Angel Reese made toward Clark.

The Hawkeyes drew national attention again in October when they played DePaul in an exhibition at Kinnick Stadium that drew 55,646, the largest crowd to ever watch a women’s basketball game.

And from the start of the regular season, Clark’s progress toward the NCAA scoring record turned into the narrative.

“Obviously, getting this record is tremendous and it has to be celebrated,” she said. “There are so many people who have come before me and laid such a great foundation for women’s basketball, and that has to be celebrated, too.

“We’re really getting into the best part of basketball season. These are the times when your team really shows who you are, and I believe coach Bluder always has us playing our best basketball at the end of February and in March.”

When the Hawkeyes play at Indiana next Thursday, Clark will be 80 points away from Lynette Woodard’s major college basketball women’s record of 3,649 for Kansas from 1978-81. The NCAA doesn’t recognize that record because it was set when the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women governed women’s college sports.

Assuming Clark breaks Woodard’s record, she will be within striking distance of the overall NCAA mark held by LSU’s Pete Maravich, who finished his career with 3,667 points. He amassed his points in only three seasons (1967-70) because freshmen of his era weren’t allowed to play on varsity teams.

Woodard and Maravich set their records when there was no 3-point shot in college basketball.

Francis Marion’s Pearl Moore has the overall record with 4,061 points from 1975-79 at the small-college level in the AIAW. Moore had 177 of her points at Anderson Junior College before enrolling at Francis Marion.

Asked if Woodard’s record should be considered the true major-college women’s record, Bluder said she hadn’t thought about it but acknowledged “that’s probably a really valid point.”

“We played basketball before the NCAA,” she said, “so I don’t know why we have this NCAA record. I think that makes really good sense.”

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AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball

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