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    Caitlin Clark, Iowa overcome poor shooting, WVU to advance to Sweet 16

    By Alex Butler,

    2024-03-26

    March 26 (UPI) -- Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes were held nearly 30 points below their season scoring average and weathered a late West Virginia rally to advance to the Sweet 16 of the 2024 NCAA women's basketball tournament.

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3wYtcx_0s5MSbYA00
    Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark scored a game-high 32 points in a win over the West Virginia Mountaineers on Monday in Iowa City. Photo by Brian Ray/HawkeyeSports.com

    Clark made 8 of 22 shots, including 5 of 14 from 3-point range, en route to a game-high 32 points in the 64-54 triumph Monday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

    The Hawkeyes, who averaged a national-best 92 points per game this season, made just 17 of 47 shots (36.2%), including just 5 of 22 (22.7%) of their 3-point attempts.

    "It's kind of an anomaly," Clark told reporters, when asked about the struggles. "That's what happens sometimes, but you've gotta be gritty and find a way to win.

    "That's exactly what this team did."

    The Hawkeyes scored just six points in the second quarter and made one field goal in the fourth. Clark was the only Hawkeyes player to make a 3-point attempt.

    But the Mountaineers offense also struggled. They made just 33.9% of their shots, including 9 of 34 3-point attempts.

    The Hawkeyes held a 42-35 edge in rebounding. They also made 25 of 30 free throw attempts. The Mountaineers made just 3 of 5 of their attempts from the foul line.

    Junior guard Sydney Affolter scored 13 points for the Hawkeyes. Sophomore forward Hannah Stuelke logged 12 points and 11 rebounds.

    "That's typically not our style, but we found a way," Hawkeyes coach Lisa Bluder said. "I'm so proud of this team for being able to divert from what usually works for us and finding a different way to win."

    The top-seeded Hawkeyes will take on the No. 5 Colorado Buffaloes in the Sweet 16. The Buffaloes advanced Sunday with a 63-50 win over the No. 4 Kansas State Wildcats.

    The winner of that matchup will face the No. 3 LSU Tigers or No. 2 UCLA Bruins in the Elite Eight. LSU and Iowa victories could result in a rematch of last year's national title game. The Tigers advanced Sunday with an 83-56 victory over the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders.

    The Bruins edged the No. 7 Creighton Bluejays 67-63 on Monday in Los Angeles. Sophomore guard Kiki Rice scored a game-high 24 points. Sophomore center Lauren Betts chipped in 20 points and 10 rebounds.

    Clark wasn't the only All-American to shine in the final wave of women's Round of 32 matchups.

    Superstar freshman guard Juju Watkins totaled 28 points, 11 rebounds and five assists to lead the No. 1 USC Trojans to a 73-55 victory over the No. 8 Kansas Jayhawks. The Jayhawks outscored the Trojans 28-18 in the paint, but trailed 26-6 in points off turnovers. The Trojans, who never trailed, led by as many as 19 points.

    They will take on the No. 5 Baylor Bears in the Sweet 16. The winner will face the No. 3 UConn Huskies or No. 7 Duke Blue Devils in the Elite Eight. The Blue Devils advanced Sunday with a 76-63 win over the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes.

    Junior guard Paige Bueckers sparked the Huskies with a game-high 32 points in a 72-64 win over the No. 6 Syracuse Orange on Monday in Storrs, Conn. She also logged 10 rebounds and six assists.

    The Huskies made 50.9% of their shots, compared to the Orange's 33.8% clip. They also sank 8 of 17 (47.1%) of their 3-point attempts, held a 30-10 edge in points in the paint and led by as many as a dozen points.

    The No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish also advanced with a 71-56 victory over the No. 7 Ole Miss Rebels on Monday in Notre Dame, Ind. Junior forward Maddy Westbeld scored 20 points for the Irish. Freshman guard Hannah Hidalgo chipped in 19 points.

    Junior guard Sonia Citron totaled 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the victory. The Irish made 50% of their shots and led by as many as 24 points.

    They will meet the No. 3 Oregon State Beavers in the Sweet 16. The Beavers advanced Sunday with a 61-51 win over the No. 6 Nebraska Cornhuskers. The winner of the Oregon State-Notre Dame game will face the top-overall seed South Carolina Gamecocks or No. 4 Indiana Hoosiers in the Elite Eight.

    The Gamecocks advanced Sunday with an 88-41 blowout of the No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels. The Hoosiers beat the No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners 75-68 on Tuesday in Bloomington, Ind. Senior forward Mackenzie Holmes scored a game-high 29 points.

    The Hoosiers posted an 18-to-4 turnover-to-assist ratio and made 22 of 29 free throw attempts in the narrow win.

    The No. 3 N.C. State Wolfpack also advanced with a 79-72 triumph over the No. 6 Tennessee Volunteers. Junior guards Aziaha James and Saniya Rivers scored 22 and 20 points, respectively, in the victory.

    The Wolfpack will meet the No. 2 Stanford Cardinal in the Sweet 16. The Cardinal advanced Sunday with an 87-81 win over the No. 7 Iowa State Cyclones. The winner of the N.C. State-Stanford meeting will battle the No. 1 Texas Longhorns or No. 4 Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Elite Eight.

    The Longhorns advanced Sunday with a 65-54 win over the No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide. The Bulldogs beat the No. 5 Utah Utes 77-66 on Monday in Spokane, Wash.

    The Bulldogs outshot the Utes 48% to 38.1% in the Round of 32 matchup. They also made 12 of 22 (54.5%) of their 3-point attempts, compared to the Utes' 26.5% clip. Senior guard Kayleigh Truong led the Bulldogs with 21 points. Senior forward Yvonne Ejim chipped in 17 points and 13 rebounds.

    Utes senior forward Alissa Pili scored a game-high 35 points in the loss.

    The 2024 NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament will resume Friday with four games on ESPN.

    No. 2 Notre Dame will face No. 3 Oregon State in the first game of the day at 2:30 p.m. No. 1 South Carolina will battle No. 4 Indiana at 5 p.m. No. 2 Stanford will take on No. 3 N.C. State at 7:30 p.m. No. 1 Texas will play No. 4 Gonzaga in the final game of the day at 10 p.m.

    Another four Sweet 16 games will air Saturday on ESPN and ABC. Elite Eight games will be held Sunday and Monday. The women's Final Four will be April 5 in Cleveland. The title game will be April 7 in Cleveland.

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