March Madness: Caitlin Clark, No. 1 Iowa survives battle with West Virginia to reach Sweet 16

West Virginia came closest to shutting out Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes on Monday night.

But after a tight fourth quarter, Clark was able to hold off No. 1 Iowa in the final at Carver-Hawkeye Arena to earn a return trip to the Sweet 16.

Clark and the Hawkeyes defeated No. 8 West Virginia 64-54 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Monday night in Iowa City. While it was an unusual game for the Hawkeyes all around — they scored just six points in the second quarter, made just one field goal in the fourth quarter and couldn't get much offense out of Clark all night — Clark dropped 32 points. Next weekend in Albany at No. 5 to set up a Sweet 16 matchup with Colorado.

Clark also passed Kelsey Plum and broke the NCAA Division I single-season scoring record in the win, marking her latest accolade in an already historic season. He has now scored 1,113 points this season alone.

Caitlin Clark, Iowa Survives West Virginia Push

Although West Virginia came out hot and struck the first punch, it didn't last long. The Hawkeyes finished the first quarter on a 15-4 run and held the Mountaineers without a field goal until the final 4:30 of the period to take a five-point advantage into the first intermission.

However, the Mountaineers largely shut down the Iowa offense in the second quarter, and Clark was frustrated as he went to the bench just before halftime. West Virginia outscored Iowa 9-6, cutting Iowa's lead to two points at halftime. Iowa didn't score in the final 4:50 of the quarter, and the Hawkeyes went just 3 of 12 from behind the arc in the first half. All three products are owned by Clark. It marked the Hawkeyes' lowest halftime score all season.

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But the problems between Clark and the Hawkeyes were all there in the second quarter. They opened the third on a 12-2 tear, and Clark immediately put them back in double digits on a deep wide-open 3-pointer.

The Hawkeyes then converted back-and-1s late in the period, and Kate Martin drilled a pair of free throws to end the quarter, countering a brief West Virginia drive.

But again, Iowa's offense stalled. The Hawkeyes went more than four minutes without scoring in the fourth quarter, and West Virginia tied the game on a big Jayla Hemingway 3-pointer just before the five-minute mark.

Finally, about eight minutes into the fourth quarter, the Hawkeyes made their first field goal of the period. After a Gabby Marshall block, Sydney Affolder converted a clutch layup and a free throw at the other end to put the Hokies up by three.

That was the only field goal the Hawkeyes scored in the quarterfinals. But they hit seven free throws the rest of the way while holding West Virginia to a bucket to capture the 10-point victory.

JJ Quinerly led West Virginia with 15 points. Kia Watson added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Hemingway finished with 10 points.

Clark had eight rebounds and three assists. He shot just 5 of 14 from the 3-point line and was the only Iowa player to score from behind the arc. Affolder finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, and Hannah Stulke added 12 points and 11 rebounds. Marshall was held scoreless after going 0-for-4 from the field.

The Hawkeyes will now travel to Albany in the Sweet 16 on Saturday against then-No. 5 Colorado will be waiting for them. The Buffaloes entered Sunday's second-round matchup against No. 1 Manhattan. 4 beat Kansas State 63-50. A second straight trip to the regional semifinals.

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