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Caitlin Clark shoots past Pete Maravich on an epic day in Iowa City

Caitlin Clark shoots past Pete Maravich on an epic day in Iowa City

Tooba Shakir 54 years ago 0 0

IOWA CITY — Too much to describe happened in this ardent college town Sunday, so you’re better off not even trying to describe it.

Start trying, and soon you’re pulled like mutant taffy toward this sight or that and that sound or this from a crammed senior day at Iowa, the day Caitlin Clark passed “Pistol” Pete Maravich to top all major college points-gatherers. You’re into the telling details, such as the fact that Clark has grown so famous that pregame the emcee held an on-court interview with two of her cousins, leaving one to wonder if they’re first cousins or distant cousins once removed or people speciously claiming to be cousins.

Clark came with her teammates through the tunnel to the court and a frenzied swell of noise around 10 a.m., two hours before tip-off, with a “College GameDay” crowd filling about half of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. She could grin while hearing ESPN’s Rebecca Lobo describe her as “a singular ticket-selling force” as the big screens displayed a little ticket with a price reading $433 for this coveted occasion.

Dwell too much on those details, however telling, and you’re leaving out the elevated sentiment, such as when ESPN had Maya Moore suddenly appear around the corner so she and Clark could hug for the first time since a 10-year-old Clark got to hug an idol in Minneapolis one day. Later Sunday, the 22-year-old Clark could compare hugs and say, “I think they both kind of have a different magnitude to them,” all while some girl among the 14,998 someday might embody Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder’s words: “And it’s just that kind of ‘pass it along, pass it along.’ ”

And then there’s the timeout with 42 seconds left and No. 6 Iowa about to upend No. 2 Ohio State, 93-83, when the Hawkeyes discussed strategy as Moore did an on-court interview extolling the dream of women’s sports and “the chance to be seen.” Or the first-quarter timeout when 64-year-old Lynette Woodard took the court and the crowd cheered and cheered and cheered, knowing that four nights prior Clark had passed the former Kansas star’s scoring mark and had shone such deserved light upon her. That got the 62-year-old Bluder recalling Woodard as her role model and saying, “The opportunity to have her into the locker room and introduce her to the Hawkeyes was really meaningful.”

Mull all the meaning there, though, and you might miss that Clark broke Maravich’s scoring record (3,667) with 35 points to reach 3,685, surpassing Maravich in one of the most eccentric ways possible. First, she hurried up the court 30 seconds before halftime, a point shy of the record, making everybody stand up with their phones to record the moment, whereupon Clark flung up her usual audacious three-pointer but missed off the rim, the half seemingly done.

In Caitlin Clark, Pete Maravich has a studious and worthy heir

Then, somewhere in the residue of the play, after Iowa’s marvelous Hannah Stuelke drew a foul, half a second remained and Clark sidled up to Ohio State’s Cotie McMahon, giving her a half-truculent little shoulder, getting McMahon to retaliate and luring one of the flimsier technical fouls you’ll ever see, a discredit to Woodard and Cheryl Miller and Dawn Staley and Lobo and Moore and Brittney Griner, among others. Clark sank the first technical free throw, tying Maravich. Then she sank the second, making her scoring numeral the largest.

“It’s really, like, crazy to think about,” Clark said. “Obviously if you had told me at the beginning of my college career I would have laughed in your face.”

But focus on all that and you might miss an idea that people kept having to bring up, which is that a great-big game happened here, too, with Iowa (26-4, 15-3 Big Ten) avenging a loss from January and ending the 15-game winning streak of Ohio State (25-4, 16-2) in a matchup wreaking booming sound upon booming sound.

“This is what we’ve built here,” Clark said. “These are the moments you dream of. . . . It kind of feels like you’re living a bit of a delusion.”

Also, they had a senior day ceremony, and the WNBA-bound Clark spoke of playing alongside her “best friends” such as fellow seniors Molly Davis, Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall.

Further, they had Travis Scott here, hugging Clark and Bluder et al at the end, and they had Nolan Ryan and Dallas Clark and the dude from all the insurance commercials. All of it, the whole day, prompted estimable Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist Mike Hlas to note to a visitor, “This is not normal.”

What’s more, they had visitors from near and far, posters with messages such as PISTOL TAUGHT ME TO DRIBBLE/CAITLIN TAUGHT ME TO DREAM, or I FLEW 1,000 MILES TO SEE CLARK SHOOT FROM THE LOGO, or the must-have T-shirts about records with YOU BROKE IT, YOU OWN IT, or that one guy, at least one, with the T-shirt with the shape of Iowa and the word HER.

Sally Jenkins: As Caitlin Clark breaks all the records, the NCAA can correct its own

All of it, all too much to process, screamed clear: The roulette wheel of sports experiences has stopped on here, and it has lavished this place with wonder. The possibilities have stretched, and the people have had a time that a hundred towns could envy, even as it’s not over given the possibility of up to two NCAA tournament home games upcoming. What has happened has upheld the great biological truth that the eye remains dazzled with long-arcing shots that splash into baskets and that the ride can get crowded, especially if the one shooting all those shots doubles as someone Bluder calls “such a great ambassador.”

With that last part in mind, Clark finally finished a slew of on-court greetings and started heading for the tunnel one last regular season time. By the time she did, a crowd had massed 10 rows up around the corner and the exit for what has become Clark’s routine, the act of signing and signing and signing. The voices hollering “Caitlin!” clearly belonged to the very young, and finally she made her way into the tunnel, except that a considerable group hanging over the right side of the entry hadn’t caught her attention.

When they did, she turned around and went back and resumed, in an emblem of all the things that have happened here — too many things to consider in one afternoon. When she finished there and headed into the hallway amid the mass of cameras that tell of unusual fame, the voices from too high up to reach called her name some more from back in the arena — tinny little voices, female and male.

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