Former Iowa teammates Caitlin Clark and Kate Martin shared the court once again on Saturday, this time as professionals.

It was Martin’s Aces that got the 99-80 win over Clark’s Fever in Las Vegas. The pair's former coaches Lisa Bluder, Jan Jensen, Jenni Fitzgerald, and Raina Harmon were all in attendance to watch their Hawkeyes — Clark, Martin, and former national player of the year Megan Gustafson — take the court.

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"It’s super special. It’s cool for our program, cool for Lisa, for Coach Jan, for all of them," Clark said in a pregame press conference. "They’ve known me since I’ve been 13 years old and now I’m 22 getting to live out my dream and they’ve been a huge part of that and helping me get here and helping Megan and Kate to get here too. It’s a great moment for them and I’m sure they’re not complaining about a trip to Vegas."

As for her college teammate, Clark had nothing but good things to say ahead of the showdown. 

"I’m just really happy for her and everything Coach [Becky] Hammon says about her is so true," she said. "Every person that played at Iowa and was around her knows that to be true. She’s the ultimate teammate, ultimate person, ultimate leader."

In the end, Martin stole the show with 12 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes, while Clark amassed eight points, seven assists, and five rebounds over 29 minutes of playing time. 

"It was weird," Martin admitted after the game. "I'm not going to lie — just looking out on the court and seeing her in a different jersey than me, it was obviously different. But it's really fun. We're both living out our dreams right now."

The Aces next meet the fever on July 2nd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Decorated Iowa basketball coach Lisa Bluder announced her retirement on Monday, with assistant coach Jan Jensen next in line to take over the head coaching position.

Bluder retires as the winningest women’s basketball coach in Big Ten history, amassing 528 wins and five Big Ten tournament titles over her 24 years. During her time at the helm, Iowa made 18 NCAA tournament appearances, including back-to-back trips to the National Championship with star guard Caitlin Clark

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"It has been the honor of my career to be a part of the Iowa Hawkeye family," Bluder wrote in a statement. "And to lead a women's basketball program filled with so many talented and remarkable young women, who have gone on to do great things in their careers and, more importantly, in their lives."

She spent the last few years coaching the remarkable Caitlin Clark. The eventual No. 1 overall pick in April’s WNBA Draft, Clark became the all-time leading scorer in D-I basketball, men’s or women’s, this past season, winning back-to-back Naismith Player of the Year awards under Bluder's leadership. 

In a tweet posted Monday, Clark reacted to Bluder’s retirement by thanking her.

"Simply no one better at building a team," Clark wrote. "Thank you for believing in me more than anyone. Enjoy retirement, coach. Very much deserved."

Bluder said Monday that her decision to retire came as she began preparing for the offseason. The longtime coach has previously said she was taking it year-by-year.

"After the season ended, I spent time with our student-athletes and coaches reviewing the season and preparing those moving on for what comes next," Bluder said. "With that also came personal contemplation about what this journey has meant to me, how to best champion this program and what the future looks like for my family and me. After then taking some time away with my husband, David, it became clear to me that I am ready to step aside.

"There is never an ideal time to retire, and I am sure this fall that I will miss the games, the practices, the road trips, the atmosphere, the tremendous fans and, most importantly, the players. But my belief in the foundation of this program, knowing that success is now an unrelenting component of women's basketball at the University of Iowa gives me comfort as I transition to become the program's biggest champion."

Bluder's coaching tenure dates back to 1985, when she coached at St. Ambrose University for six seasons before accepting a head coaching job at Drake in 1991. During her nine years in Des Moines, Bluder led the Bulldogs to four Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championships (1995, 1997, 1998, 2000) alongside three regular season titles (1997, 1998, 2000).

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Assistant head coach Jan Jensen has been tapped to take over the role at Iowa, having worked shoulder to shoulder with the outgoing Bluder for a major part of her career. After playing under Bluder at Drake, Jensen moved on to join her former coach off the court as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs.

"I love Jan to death," 2019 Naismith Player of the Year Megan Gustafson told The Gazette. "She deserves this, and she’s ready for it."

Gustafson's former Iowa teammate, post player Monika Czinano, echoed the sentiment. 

"It’s the perfect succession line, in my opinion," Czinano said. "She’s one of the main reasons for my development. She’s ready for it."

Former Iowa captain Kate Martin was in the audience during Monday night’s draft when she was selected 18th overall by the Las Vegas Aces. 

The moment quickly went viral, as Martin was in the crowd to support superstar teammate Caitlin Clark going No. 1 overall, and was not one of the 14 players invited to the draft.

"To be honest, I don't think I'd have the type of career if I don't have a teammate like Kate," Clark said about Martin leading up to the 2024 national championship game. "She's been one that has had my back. She holds me accountable. I hold her accountable. But I think at the same time, me and Kate are wired so similarly that we get each other on a different level."

Martin being drafted marks the first time that Iowa has had two players selected in the same WNBA draft since 1998.

“She's one of the best leaders I've been around," Clark said. "She wants the best for her teammates. She's one of the most selfless people."

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said Monday that she is “so proud” of her player, “because her dreams came true.”

"She has been such a big part of our program over the last six years,” she said. “Her efforts did not go unnoticed by her peers. I wish Kate all the success with this next step.”

Martin said afterward that she’s “excited for the opportunity” and to showcase her “really good” work ethic. Helping Iowa to back-to-back NCAA title games, Martin finished her college career with 1,299 points, 756 rebounds and 473 assists.

“There are a lot of emotions right now,” Martin said in an interview on ESPN. “I’m really happy to be here. I was here to support Caitlin, but I was hoping to hear my name called. All I wanted was an opportunity and I got it. I’m really excited.”

While Martin was watching from the crowd, her family was watching from back home.

Sunday’s Ohio State upset of Iowa was the most-watched regular season women’s college basketball game on any network since 2010, NBC Sports announced on Monday.

In total, the game averaged 1.93 million viewers. Of those viewers, 1.86 million came on NBC stations. Viewership peaked at 3.9 million viewers in overtime as Ohio State pulled away from Iowa to win the game 100-92.

That number is the latest in what has been a number of increasing viewerships in women’s basketball. Last March’s championship game between Iowa and LSU drew an average of 9.9 million viewers, with the game airing on ABC for the first time.

Other sports, such as softball and gymnastics, have also seen increased viewership. Earlier this month, ESPN’s Sprouts Collegiate Classic drew 634,000 viewers, the most-watched regular season NCAA gymnastics meet in ESPN history.

Caitlin Clark was once again dominant, getting her second consecutive triple-double in Iowa’s 96-71 win over Purdue on Wednesday.

It’s the 15th triple-double of the Iowa star’s career. She finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against the Boilermakers. It marks the second time in Clark’s career that she’s recorded consecutive triple-doubles, with the other time coming in January of her sophomore season.

In total, Iowa had five players in double digits to help capitalize on Clark’s performance.

“That’s when we’re at our best,” Clark said. “When we have multiple people scoring in double figures, that makes us really hard to guard. We’re going to need that consistently going forward. This is one of the toughest places to play in the Big Ten. (It) gives you a headache; their band’s loud, their fans are loud. So credit to them. I thought we played a great game tonight.”

Her fourth triple-double of the season, Clark now has nine in her career with at least 25 points. She leads NCAA women’s basketball in that stat category – former Baylor star Brittney Griner is second on that list with three.

Iowa next plays No. 14 Indiana. Both are on 13-game winning streaks and are undefeated in conference play. The two teams split their games last season, with each team winning their game at home.

“Indiana is playing great basketball right now,” Clark said. “I know our crowd’s going to be really amped up for that one. It’s gonna be a fun matchup.”

Rebecca Lobo had some high praise for Caitlin Clark.

Clark had a 29-point triple-double last Friday in Iowa’s win over Rutgers, coming off of four-straight games in which the Iowa star had 35+ points, tying the NCAA record. Her recent run of play had ESPN broadcaster Rebecca Lobo drawing some lofty comparisons.

“I think Caitlin Clark, scoring aside, barring injury will become the No. 1 scorer in women’s college basketball,” Lobo said at halftime of the South Carolina game. “I think she’s the best offensive player we’ve seen in women’s college basketball in 20 years, since Diana Taurasi.

“And it’s not just her ability to score. It’s not just the 31 points a game, her ability to assist. The real separator to me is the range that she has on her shot because it makes her that much more unguardable. … Best offensive player we have seen in 20 years.”

The Hawkeyes star is on track to break the all-time women’s scoring record for NCAA basketball held by Kelsey Plum. Since Taurasi, others have come through the NCAA ranks like Maya Moore, Candace Parker, A’ja Wilson and Plum. Lobo recognized that on social media, but still held firm in her comments.

“There have been some great offensive players in WCBB the last 20 years (Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, EDD, Breanna Stewart, Kelsey Plum),” she wrote. “I believe @CaitlinClark22 is the best player on the offensive end since Diana Taurasi.”

Even still, the comments did draw some ire from others, including current WNBA player Lexie Brown.

“The erasure of recent college greats is mind boggling to me,” she wrote on social media. “I can’t stand it.”

As Iowa star Caitlin Clark hit a shot heard around the world on Tuesday night, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley lamented the refereeing that got her there.

“Heckava shot but give the game ball to the ref for the shooting foul call,” Staley wrote on social media.

While some thought she was referring to the idea that Clark didn’t get the ball off in time, it was a questionable 3-point shooting foul that allowed Molly Davis to sink two free throws and give Iowa a 73-71 lead.

Michigan State’s DeeDee Hagemann was able to tie the game at 73, but those two points inevitably made a difference in the outcome.

Davis, for her part, joked about missing one of the free throws on purpose.

“I missed the first [free throw] on purpose so Caitlin could hit the game-winner,” she said.

Caitlin Clark continued to do Caitlin Clark things on Tuesday, nailing a buzzer-beater to give No. 4 Iowa a 76-73 win over Michigan State.

It was another signature logo 3-pointer, and marks her second such game-winning three in the last two seasons after she hit a similar shot against Indiana last year.

“Honestly, when it left my hand, I knew it was going in,” Clark said. “Those are situations we work on at the end of practice every single day.”

The shot had athletes like Alex Morgan tweeting, “CAITLIN CLARK IS HER.” Meanwhile others suggested that the NBA’s Detroit Pistons should draft the Iowa star.

An additional photo of the buzzer beater also made the rounds, quieting those who thought that Clark didn’t get the shot off in time.

“Caitlin has ice in her veins,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “Everybody knows it.”

Even still, the shot doesn’t mask the struggles the Hawkeyes faced against the Spartans. A 25-point first-quarter was followed by just 10 points in the second, as Michigan State took a two-point lead into the locker room at the half.

“That second quarter was one of the worst ones I’ve seen of Iowa basketball,” Bluder said. “I was kind of frustrated we quit running our offense in the second quarter, and that allowed them to get back in the game.”

The stat sheet tells a little bit more of the story. Clark took 34 shot attempts for 40 points and only one other Hawkeyes was in double-digits: Hannah Stuelke. The Spartans, on the other hand, had four players in double-digits.

But at the end of the day, Iowa – and Clark – found a way to win.

“I almost started laughing,” Clark said. “I think everybody was like, ‘Oh, thank God, this game’s over with, we don’t have to go to overtime.’ You know, it was ugly, but it was a win, and that’s what matters at the end of the day.”

As the new year approaches, the college basketball season is heating up, and so is the player of the year race.

The Naismith Player of the Year award recognizes the best players in NCAA men’s and women’s basketball. Several players on the 50-player watchlist have lived up to their billing. One in particular has done even more.

Here are Just Women’s Sports’ contenders in the player of the year race heading into 2024, in no particular order.

Caitlin Clark, Iowa

Not much more needs to be said here. Last year’s Naismith Award winner is putting on an even better show this season. At the time of publication, Clark averages a league-leading 30.5 points per game and is seventh in NCAA Division I in assists (7.4 per game). At her current pace, Clark could overtake Kelsey Plum’s college scoring record by February. And while she’s a high scorer, she also spreads the wealth around to her team.

In what could be her final year in the NCAA, Clark has also stepped up her defensive play. She’s gathered 91 defensive rebounds through 13 games played, and her turnover rate is at a career low.

For the second year in a row, Clark may well be the best all-around choice for player of the year.

(Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Alissa Pili, Utah

Few players on this list have taken their team on their backs the way Pili has. When she shoots, she rarely misses. When she defends, she gives her all.

Pili averages just under 25 points per game, good for fourth in D-I. She also has a 69.7 shooting percentage, the fifth-highest in the NCAA. And she is making 56.5% of her 3-pointers, which ranks first in the NCAA.

Pili’s WNBA potential has been debated. But after the show she’s been putting on this season, there’s no question that she could thrive in the pros. Her size, scoring ability and athleticism make her an ideal draft candidate in 2024 — and perhaps a player of the year candidate as well.

(Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

JuJu Watkins, USC

The freshman guard is already making a huge impact for the Trojans. In the seven-week old college basketball season, Watkins has taken home six Pac-12 freshman of the week honors. And for good reason.

Watkins is averaging a staggering 26.8 points per game, placing her at second in D-I as a first-year player. She shoots over 46% from behind the arc, and she’s snagged 62 rebounds in her nine games played.

Before finishing her first semester of college, Watkins has cemented herself as a regular in USC’s starting lineup and as a favorite for national freshman of the year honors. And if she keeps it up, she could set her sights even higher.

(M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Paige Bueckers, UConn

Bueckers started the 2023-24 season with something to prove. The redshirt junior guard had less than 50 college games under her belt due to injuries — a good amount lower than many other players in her year. But she hit the court without missing a beat.

The 21-year-old averages almost 19 points per game, shoots 48% from the three-point line and leads her team in points this season. Bueckers also averages more than three assists per game, and she’s snagged 23 steals in 12 games. She is stepping up her defensive game as well. So far, she’s batted a team-leading 16 blocks as a guard and she’s collected 50 defensive rebounds.

If she continues to heat up despite the pressure of leading a depleted UConn squad, she could play her way into the national award conversation.

(Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Aneesah Morrow, LSU

Morrow is another player whose all-around skillset is serving her well early in the 2023-24 slate. Her versatility is allowing her to shine at LSU after her transfer from DePaul in the offseason.

The 20-year-old forward makes her presence known on the scoresheet, averaging 18.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. But her excellence continues on the other side of the ball. Morrow leads the Tigers with 34 steals and 17 blocks in 13 games played.

Through many challenges LSU has faced this season, including a prolonged absence for star Angel Reese and the removal of former starter Kateri Poole from the team, Morrow has taken everything in stride and remained a consistent and reliable player for the Tigers.

Honorable mentions:

  • Cameron Brink, Stanford
  • Aaliyah Edwards, UConn
  • Deja Kelly, UNC
  • Ta’Niya Latson, Florida State
  • Jacy Sheldon, Ohio State

Caitlin Clark once again made history Thursday, recording 35 points in her 13th career triple-double in Iowa’s 98-69 win over Loyola Chicago.

She finished the game with 35 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists. It’s her third triple-double with at least 35 points, and her fifth 30-point triple-double, which is the most in D-I history. It was also the second triple-double in Division I women’s basketball history with at least 35 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, joining LSU’s Cornelia Gayden, who accomplished the feat 1995.

Sabrina Ionescu remains the all-time D-I leader in triple-doubles, with 26 during her time at Oregon.

“I knew we were going to make some bunnies,” Clark said when asked if she was concerned about getting her last assist. “Ten assists is all because of my teammates. I’m thankful for them, and for Coach Bluder for allowing me to get (the triple-double). It’s always cool when you get one of those.”

Clark is making her way up the all-time scoring list, now with 3,114 points. She’s set to pass fellow Iowan Lorri Bauman, who starred for Drake from 1980-84 with 3,115 points, who is sixth on the list. Both are natives of Des Moines.

It was also Clark’s ninth career game leading both teams in points, rebounds and assists. She sits one back from Stanford’s Nicole Powell (2000-04) for the most such games by a player since the 1999-2000 season.

“She’s really hard to play against,” Loyola coach Allison Guth said. “Her range is insane. I’ve seen teams try to box-and-one her, send two players at her. And she can do it all. We were going to stay pretty pragmatic to what we did, and try to slow them down with our pressure. Once they lit that up, it hurt us defensively.”