Associated Press3 minutes of reading
“I love my girls [on my team]But sometimes you’re playing checkers and she’s playing chess,” Brooks said. “She’s really good.”
Clark wasn’t just great Thursday night, she was tremendous.
The Associated Press’ 2023 Player of the Year scored 44 points and grabbed 8 rebounds for the No. No. 3 Iowa’s 80-76 victory over No. 8 Virginia Tech exceeded expectations in a battle of the Final Four teams a year ago.
Clark went 13-for-31 from the field and made five 3s. She got to the basket with ease, converting several one-handed scoop layups, while finding time and time to the foul line. She made 13 of 17 free throws, and anyone who tried to guard her quickly found herself in foul trouble and earned a seat on the bench next to Brooks.
Even when the Hokies knew she was getting the ball, she was unhinged on nearly every possession.
When she wasn’t scoring, Clark made those around her better. He finished with six assists, but easily could have had 10 or more if teammates hadn’t missed easy rallies.
“She’s a generational player and we’re going to see this young lady play for a long time and she’s going to play at a very high level,” Brooks said.
Charlotte, North Carolina, drew more than 15,000 spectators on a weeknight, many coming to see Clark play, a not uncommon occurrence around the country. The host city saw more than 3,000 people turn out to see Clark last year where the Hawkeyes played.
The Hokies had a large crowd at the Spectrum Center, at times cheering for Tech fans who officials thought were getting too many calls for Clark.
But everyone should see a show.
After the horn sounds, no. 22 Young kids wearing Iowa jerseys lined the arena tunnel to get her autograph as she left the floor. She signed for several minutes before being called into the locker room.
Clarke called it an exciting situation, not unlike a Final Four game — sure to be played in front of cardboard cutouts and some family members at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s unbelievable, honestly,” Clark said of the attention. “It seems like a lot of people are just fans of our game, whether it’s Iowa fans or Virginia Tech fans or people who come here to support women’s basketball. That’s why this game was put on. Understand how big women’s basketball is and how much it’s growing.”