Caitlin Clark, Iowa survive March Madness scare from West Virginia in star’s final home game

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Caitlin Clark brought them here. 

She guaranteed every one of the 14,000-plus seats would be filled, as they were all season.

She made sure they wouldn’t think twice about the price, even those who couldn’t find a ticket for under $300 in the hours before tip-off.

She made sure it was a night to remember.

Caitlin Clark scored 32 points to help Iowa clinch a spot in the Sweet 16. AP

She made sure to say goodbye with the most powerful promise she could offer: they will see her again.

In the final home game of her legendary career, Caitlin Clark carried Iowa back to the Sweet 16, putting up 32 points and eight rebounds in the No. 1 Hawkeyes’ tightly contested 64-54 win over No. 8 West Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa (31-4) continues its quest for another Final Four berth Saturday in Albany, where they will face No. 5 Colorado (24-9) in a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16, won by Iowa, behind Clark’s 31 points and eight assists. 

West Virginia guard Jayla Hemingway drives past Iowa forward Hannah Stuelke (45) in the first half on Monday night. AP

West Virginia (28-5) did its best to ruin the festivities, giving Clark roller derby treatment from the tip.

The Mountaineers, who lead the nation in steals, had four in the first quarter and jumped out to an 11-5 lead, before Clark hit a series of trademark logo 3s to put the Hawkeyes in front.

The physicality only increased in the second quarter.

It was ugly.

It was gritty.

It was a game that swung on desire, on being quicker to loose balls, on being too stubborn to bend to their opponent’s will.

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