Caitlin Clark's strong performance lifts Iowa to Elite 8, setups rematch with defending champion LSU


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Caitlin Clark, the presumptive top pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft, delivered another impressive performance in Iowa’s Sweet 16 matchup with the fifth-seeded Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday.

Clark’s 29 points led the Hawkeyes in scoring. She also added 15 assists as Iowa cruised to an 89-68 win. Saturday’s victory sets up a rematch of last year’s national title game against LSU.

“I think we’re excited. Anytime you have a chance to go up against somebody you lost to, it brings a little more energy,” Clark said. “I think overall it’s just going to be a really great game for women’s basketball. They’re really solid one through five. We know we are going to have to rebound the basketball.”

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Caitlin Clark reacts during a game

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes reacts after a three pointer against the Colorado Buffaloes during the Sweet Sixteen round of the 2024 NCAA Womens Basketball Tournament held at MVP Arena on March 30, 2024 in Albany, New York.  (Greg Fiume/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Kim Mulkey coached LSU to the program’s first-ever national title last year, as the Tigers defeated Iowa 102-85 in the championship game. The two teams are now scheduled to play on Monday. The winner will clinch a spot in the Final Four.

“I think everyone’s pretty excited for it,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “These are two really good basketball teams. Unfortunate they are meeting this early. Everyone that’s left now is really good. LSU is certainly that. It’s going to be highly emotional and highly competitive.”

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Clark got the Hawkeyes going early, driving to the basket for easy layups or throwing fantastic passes. About the only thing missing from Clark’s day was one of her signature midcourt logo shots. She took a couple, but missed.

The NCAA’s all-time Division I scoring leader has dazzled off the court as well. She’s a transcendent player who has brought record ratings and attendance to the sport. Clark spent a few minutes after the buzzer signing autographs before she went back to the locker room.

Iowa Hawkeyes celebrate

Head coach Lisa Bluder of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates following a win over the Colorado Buffaloes celebration during the Sweet Sixteen round of the 2024 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament held at MVP Arena on March 30, 2024 in Albany, New York.  (Scott Taetsch/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Clark threaded the needle with a beautiful bounce pass to Hannah Stuelke for a layup before the end of the first quarter that gave the Hawkeyes a 22-14 lead. Clark had six points, six assists and three rebounds in the opening 10 minutes.

“We had the punch to begin the third quarter,” Bluder said. “Set the tone early in both the halves which was really important.”

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The Buffaloes made their first back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16 since the 2002-03. They also were knocked out last year by Iowa, falling 87-77 in the same round.

“It is tough. Never want to go out like that,” Colorado’s Jaylyn Sherrod said. “Some things we can all look back at and say we could have done better. Proud of this team.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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