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Caitlin Clark: Her top four performances in Iowa’s Final Four season

(Joseph Cress/USA TODAY NETWORK)

To know Caitlin Clark is to know her greatness. To understand her stats is to understand the way that she is shifting the landscape of women’s college basketball.

While the Iowa junior ranked amongst the top players in the country in seasons past, this year has seen Clark set herself apart. Around every corner lies a record that Clark has broken, or a star player whose milestone she has matched or surpassed: Kevin Durant, Sabrina Ionescu, Dwyane WadeElena Delle Donne – the list goes on.

If you ask Clark, the season is not about the personal accolades but about helping her team to the Final Four. Even still, in honor of Clark’s run with Iowa, Just Women’s Sports is taking a look at four of her best performances this season.

March 26, 2023: 41 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists
Elite Eight vs. Louisville

Trying to put Clark’s Elite Eight performance into words may be impossible. With the triple-double, she became the first player in the history of NCAA basketball – men’s or women’s – to record not just a 30-point but also a 40-point triple-double in the NCAA Tournament.

What else was historic about the performance?

  • Clark is now the only player in D-I history to have multiple career 35-point triple doubles, having recorded a 35-point, 13-rebound, 11-assist performance against Minnesota earlier this season.
  • She also became the first player in D-I history to record 900 points and 300 assists in a season.
  • She was responsible for 70 of Iowa’s 92 points, the most in an NCAA Tournament game since at least 2000, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
  • Over her last five games, Clark is averaging 30.0 points, 12.2 assists and 51.6 percent shooting. She’s the only D-I player to record those stats over a five-game span since 2000.

March 5, 2023: 30 points, 10 rebounds, 17 assists
Big Ten Tournament championship vs. Ohio State

Clark’s 10th career triple-double came in the Big Ten Tournament championship final, as she propelled Iowa to a dominant 105-72 win over Ohio State to take their second straight title. It was also the first triple-double ever recorded in the final of the Big Ten women’s tournament.

She had 23 points, nine assists and five rebounds at halftime, which was enough to turn heads. And, on top of the triple-double, Clark became the first D-I player in the last 20 years to have 30 points and at least 15 assists in a game.

February 26, 2023: 34 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists
Regular-season finale vs. Indiana

Perhaps no shot defines Clark’s time at Iowa better than her game-winning buzzer-beater against Indiana. While she neared a triple-double in that game, Clark went just 4-of-12 from 3-point range – but one of those included the last-second shot to secure the win. And if you ask her, ESPN’s Holly Rowe did postgame, she knew the shot was going in.

“I thought it was money,” she said.

It was a shot heard throughout the sports world, going viral across social media. And while the argument could have been made before, this 3-pointer cemented her status as a game-changer for women’s basketball.

February 2, 2022: 42 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists
Regular-season game vs. Maryland

Following another 40-plus point performance against NC State earlier in the regular season, Clark threw up 42 points against then-No. 8 Maryland in February. It was her sixth career 40-point game, the most in Big Ten history.

She’s also just the second player over the last 20 seasons to have a 40/5/5 game in a win against a top-10 opponent. Lindsay Whalen, who did so for Minnesota in 2002, went on to win four WNBA titles with the Minnesota Lynx and is a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame.

Sofia Huerta signs contract extension with Seattle through 2027

(Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

Former Oregon soccer players detail instances of verbal abuse from former USWNT assistant

(Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via Imagn Content Services)

Members of the Oregon women’s soccer team are saying they received harsh treatment and even verbal abuse from head coach and former USWNT assistant Graeme Abel. 

During the 2023 season, the team had zero wins, and upon its conclusion a total of 12 of the team’s 29 players departed the team. Former players told The Oregonian that Abel would verbally attack them, threaten to kick them off the team and at times would even throw objects.

"When I’d make a mistake at practice, it felt like he made it a job to embarrass you to the point where you just wanted to walk off the field,” one player said. “He’d stop the practice – and I know it’s college soccer, it’s very competitive — but he’d stop practice and just keep going nonstop on this one thing."

In total, the Oregonian spoke with 14 former players – including 12 who agreed to be interviewed in depth. All said that they experienced verbal abuse. Six of the players were among those who transferred following the season. 

One instance of Abel’s tirades included him throwing a water bottle that narrowly missed players’ heads. 

“He kicked all of our staff out of the locker room, kicked a trash can, threw a white board, sat on the trash can and started screaming,” one player recounted. “He wanted us to tell him what we thought went wrong in the game. Me and another player spoke up, and he said, ‘You’re just (expletive) wrong.’ And that if we didn’t want to be in this program, we could all quit, and he’d sign our release paperwork tomorrow.”

While Abel was not made available for an interview, he did say in a statement that “at no point have I used threatening statements or financial repercussions as a part of coaching.”

Instances of emotional distress stemming from Abel’s alleged harsh treatment date back to 2021 – his first full year leading the team following an abbreviated 2020 campaign.

One former player contacted by The Oregonian detailed positive overall experiences, and described his style as “normal coaching.”

Others, like USWNT players Becky Sauerbrunn and Lindsey Horan, did not respond to requests for comment, although Sauerbrunn wrote in 2019 that she had a “great relationship” with Abel. 

Still, multiple players interviewed had similar stories, with one saying that girls would be “crying in the locker room” after practice because of what he would tell players. Attempts to speak with the administration about his behavior, players say, was “discouraging.”

“His office is like the scariest place,” one player said. “You’d have to sit there while he’d belittle you and say all these nasty things, and gaslight you into believing you’re not good enough. ... Our team fell apart because of the environment he created. We were just trying to get through the day. There was no way we could focus on soccer.”

Multiple players said they experienced suicidal ideation while playing at Oregon. In part of his statement, Abel wrote that “at no time do we put our student-athletes in any danger.”

Abel is currently in his fifth and final year of his contract at Oregon.

Gotham FC unveil Championship rings ahead of banner reveal

Gotham FC players celebrate Lynn Williams' goal in the first half of the 2023 NWSL Championship. (Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports)

Gotham FC has unveiled their 2023 NWSL championship rings — and safe to say, they deliver.

The reveal has led to a little bit of trash talk ahead of the team’s matchup with Kansas City this weekend, as both teams have NFL owners. While the Current are co-owned by Patrick and Brittany Mahomes, former Giants quarterback Eli Manning is a co-owner of Gotham. 

On Wednesday, Manning took to Sportscenter to give Mahomes a bit of a hard time.

“He may have one more Super Bowl ring than me, but he does not have a NWSL championship ring like I do,” Manning joked.

“Come Sunday night at Red Bull Arena, April 14th, we’re dropping the banner on Kansas City. We got the ring ceremony, the players get their rings and their championship afterwards. This is it, I’ve got something to talk a little trash to him about because I can’t do it about football anymore, I gotta find something else.”

The appearance came after Manning posted to social media, inviting Mahomes to “come see [the championship ring] up close this Sunday.”

Mahomes responded in kind, writing that “we’ll see y’all Sunday!”

Gotham takes on current league-leaders Kansas City on Sunday at 6pm ET. The game is available on NWSL+.

Oregon State hit by transfer portal again as Raegan Beers departs

ALBANY, NEW YORK - MARCH 31: Raegan Beers #15 of the Oregon State Beavers shoots a free throw during the first half against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on March 31, 2024 in Albany, New York. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Oregon State leading scorer and rebounder Raegan Beers announced on Thursday that she is entering the transfer portal. 

"Thank you for all of your endless love and support these past two years," she posted on social media. "I will never forget my time at OSU and I am thankful for the opportunity I had to meet and play with incredible people. My journey as a Beav was a special one and I am grateful for my teammates, coaches, fans, and friends who have changed my life throughout my time here."

A sophomore forward, Beers is a two-time All-Pac-12 selection who averaged 17.5 points per game last season while shooting 66.4 percent from the field. She also added 10.3 rebounds en route to earning third-team All-American honors from the AP. 

She’s the fourth Oregon State starter – and seventh player overall – to hit the portal this offseason. She joins Talia von Oelhoggen and Timea Gardiner in the transfer portal, as well as starting freshman Donovyn Hunter. 

Beers and Gardiner were both top-10 recruits in ESPN rankings coming out of high school. 

With the dissolution of the Pac-12, the program will join the WCC next season and no longer be a part of the Power 5.

Conference realignment is hitting the team hard, with coach Scott Rueck saying during the tournament that he knew it could seriously affect his team moving forward. 

"That's reality," Rueck said. "I can't control that, other than just keep doing what I'm doing. I think the opportunity within that for a leader provides a discipline that you'd better be on your A-game all the time. You'd better take care of people, and you'd better provide a great experience. That's the approach going forward and what happens, happens. We'll find a way."

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