Iowa’s Caitlin Clark on record-breaking moment: ‘I hope they don’t stop the game. We can’t be wasting timeouts on that’

Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder initially intended to honor the gravity of the moment with a timeout. Then she heard word of her superstar point guard’s feelings on the matter and second-thought it.

“I hope they don’t stop the game,” Caitlin Clark, ever a competitor, told a group of reporters on Wednesday. “We can’t be wasting timeouts on that, come on now.”

For the Hawkeyes, their meeting with Michigan on Thursday night is an opportunity to bounce back from a late collapse against Nebraska with bigger goals in mind.

There’s a heated three-team race for the Big Ten title with only five regular season contests left and pivotal seeding repercussions in the NCAA tournament.

Iowa star Caitlin Clark is just eight points shy of the NCAA all-time women's basketball scoring record. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

[Watch Caitlin Clark’s record-breaking attempt here at 8 p.m. ET Thursday]

For the 15,000-plus at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and the millions more watching on TV (8 p.m. ET, Peacock), it’s a chance to experience history.

Clark is eight points away from setting the NCAA Division I women’s scoring record set by Kelsey Plum in 2017, a moment she said she has never focused on, but rather “come along with how my four years have gone.”

“I’m not anxious about it really at all,” Clark said. “I’m just really excited. It’s going to be a special night.”

The sporting world’s attention laser-focused on Clark weeks ago after she pulled into second place on the list, passing Kelsey Mitchell’s Big Ten mark of 3,402 points at Ohio State.

Scoring 39 points against Nebraska for the record as a lead-in to Super Bowl Sunday festivities was highly probable.

It seemed almost undeniable heading into the fourth quarter until the Cornhuskers held her to zero points.

Bluder said on Wednesday she felt there was a sort of awe from teammates that can’t happen.

“That’s, I think, been the case with our team all year long is that we can’t have the Michael Jordan effect where everybody’s standing around watching her,” Bluder said.

They can join the club aptly titled the Clark Effect for the most popular, well-known and highly watched collegiate player in the country regardless of gender. Women’s basketball is used to being overshadowed.

Now Clark is overwhelmingly college basketball’s biggest star.

How to watch Caitlin Clark break the NCAA women's scoring record as Iowa  takes on Michigan - Yahoo Sports

Iowa star Caitlin Clark is just eight points shy of the NCAA all-time women’s basketball scoring record. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The lights were already bright on Clark and the Hawkeyes on Super Bowl Sunday.

They’ll be even brighter on Thursday with the NFL in its post-Super Bowl lull and the NBA quiet ahead of its All-Star break.

Unlike Plum’s record-breaking day when she scored a career-best 57 points on senior night, reaching the necessary number is easy work for Clark. She’s averaging a career-best 32.1 points per game and could break it by the first-quarter buzzer.

“Eight points is what we’re looking at for this record, and obviously she’s going to just blast it out of the water,” Bluder said. “It’s going to be fun to see how many points she adds on to that.”

Clark, who is sitting at 3,520 points, can soon pass Lynette Woodard, who scored 3,649 points at Kansas in the AIAW era before the NCAA sponsored women’s sports.

Next comes Pete Maravich’s all-time DI men’s record of 3,667 points, which is doable by the season’s end. Pearl Moore scored a small-school record 4,061 points at Francis Marion in the AIAW era.

The scoring record was on the radar, but it wasn’t something Clark and Bluder discussed, they said. Nor was it something they talked about as a team until Wednesday’s practice.

“I want to talk to them about the significance of it and that we want to celebrate this,” Bluder said. “This is really exciting for our university, our basketball program, that one of our players is going to do this.”

The school sold out its arena via season ticket sales ahead of the season and all but two of the Hawkeyes’ games have been sellouts, spanning east from Nebraska to New Jersey.

Iowa's Caitlin Clark prepares to break all-time scoring record: How will  her team react? - The Athletic

Ticket prices on the secondary market soared after she missed out on the record Sunday.

The least expensive ticket for the game before Clark neared the record was $110, while the average purchase price over the last week was $521, according to TickPick.

Clark had to deny a lot of people asking for tickets this week.

Between her free tickets, her family’s group of season tickets and her friends’ ticket packages, there will still be a large contingency in the building.

That includes her parents, Brent Clark and Anne Nizzi-Clark, and her brothers, Blake and Colin. Colin, she noted, is probably excited for the free pass to miss his classes at Creighton.

She was grateful to be able to secure an important ticket for Kristin Meyer, her head coach at West Des Moines Dowling Catholic who will attend her first Iowa game this season.

“She’s busy with coaching back in Des Moines, so it’s not always an opportunity for her to come over and watch me play,” Clark said. “This honestly just worked out. The stars kind of all aligned, so I know that will be special for her in attendance.”

The record was a possibility when the schedule tipped off in November after she averaged a consistent 26.6-27.8 points over her previous three seasons.

But Iowa needed more from her with a new starting lineup for the first time in two years, and the quest took on speed. She went on a hot streak at the end of January, bumping up the timeline, but in the end it landed back on the day most expected for weeks.

“It was never something I’m chasing,” Clark said.

“It’s never why I’m scoring the ball at the rate I am, or shooting the ball as many times as I am. I think it’s just kind of what the team needs.

My main goal is always to go out there and help us win, and obviously at 22-3 we’ve done that quite a bit this year.”

If there has been one low point in it all, Clark said, it was the loss to Nebraska.

The record is special and important, but it’s only one moment in the bigger picture of another important game when they might need that late timeout.

“Today we need to be really good [in practice],” Clark said. “And then going into [Thursday] it’s a good opportunity to rebound in front of a really great crowd.”

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