Caitlin Clark becomes Iowa's all-time leader scorer as No. 3 Hawkeyes defeat Northern Iowa, 94-53

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) — Caitlin Clark became Iowa’s all-time career scoring leader and finished with the 12th triple-double of her career as the No. 3 Hawkeyes beat Northern Iowa 94-53 on Sunday.

Clark had 24 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, joining Sabrina Ionescu as the only NCAA Division I players to record triple-doubles in four different seasons.

Gabbie Marshall had 17 points and Hannah Stuelke added 16 for the Hawkeyes (3-0), who were coming off an 80-76 win over No. 8 Virginia Tech on Thursday night.

The Hawkeyes could be No. 1 in the Associated Press poll on Monday, with the losses by No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Connecticut this week, but they didn't want to think about that after this win.

“We'll see,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “It really doesn't matter if we are or not. It's a long year. What are we this week? Three? That's darn good too.”

“I think it was a good (week), it gets you off on the right note,” Clark said. “But our group is mature enough to know this is just the starting block.”

Clark, the reigning national player of the year and a unanimous Associated Press preseason All-American, now has 2,813 career points, passing Megan Gustafson, who scored 2,804 points from 2015-19. Luka Garza is the school’s men’s leader in scoring at 2,306 points.

Clark said she got a text message from Gustafson on Saturday night, encouraging her to break the record.

“Megan’s been our biggest fan on this whole journey,” Clark said. “Megan reached out to me last night and said, ‘You’re very, very deserving of this. Go out there and do it.’ It’s not the first time she’s reached out and texted me. She’s always there. And that’s not fake — Megan is one of the best people of all time.”

Clark said the record “never crossed my mind” during the game.

“It was like 15 or 16 (points) I needed, and once I crossed 16 I didn't even know,” Clark said.

Clark was 6 of 13 from the field, 2 of 5 in 3-pointers.

“Caitlin Clark is the best player in the country,” Northern Iowa coach Tanya Warren said. “No ifs, ands or buts about it. You're not going to stop her, you're not going to contain her. You just want to make things tough for her.”

Northern Iowa (1-1), picked the preseason favorite in the Missouri Valley Conference, made just 7 of 35 field goals in the first half as Iowa built a 40-25 halftime lead.

The Panthers shot just 25 percent from the field for the game, making just 2 of 19 3-pointers.

“I thought we defended well in the first half,” Warren said. “But when you can't put the ball in the hole, it wears on your defense.”

The Hawkeyes, who were 18 of 28 from the field in the second half, led by as much as 44 points in the fourth quarter.

Riley Wright had 14 points and Grace Boffeli added 11 for the Panthers.

Clark has the rest of this season to add to her record, and hasn't decided if she'll use the fifth year of eligibility granted by the NCAA during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Records are meant to be broken,” she said. “So I hope Iowa has a really great player one day who can break mine, too.”

BIG PICTURE

Iowa: It took a little while for the Hawkeyes to get going from the perimeter after struggling in Thursday’s game against Virginia Tech. Iowa, which went 6 of 26 in 3-pointers against the Hokies, opened this game by going 3 of 16 from behind the arc in the first half. But the Hawkeyes were 6 of 7 in threes in the third quarter.

Northern Iowa: The Panthers’ shooting struggles didn’t allow them to get into any sort of first-half rhythm. Boffeli, the Missouri Valley Conference’s preseason player of the year, played just six first-half minutes after picking up two early fouls, then got her third foul early in the third quarter.

UP NEXT

Iowa: Hosts Kansas State on Thursday. The Wildcats handed the Hawkeyes their first loss last season.

Northern Iowa: At Ball State on Saturday.

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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