Caitlin Clark gives Iowa fans reason to believe after underwhelming home finale

Caitlin Clark wants Iowa basketball fans to see the positives in the Hawkeyes defeating West Virginia despite a bad shooting night in the NCAA Tournament, which has raised doubts over the team’s chances of glory.

Following their closer-than-anticipated victory over West Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Caitlin Clark reassured Hawkeye nation, emphasizing the team’s resilience in overcoming a challenging shooting night to secure the win.

Iowa defeated West Virginia 64-54 in their final home game of the season, with Clark scoring a game-high 32 points in the victory.

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) as seen at a post-game press conference after the West Virginia Mountaineers game

However, their shooting raised concern throughout the contest, making just five of their 22 attempted threes as a team.

Iowa’s victory over West Virginia became the most-watched early-round NCAA women’s basketball game ever, drawing an average of 4.9 million viewers.

Second-round games across ESPN platforms saw an average of 1.4 million viewers, marking a remarkable 121 percent increase compared to the previous year.

Despite the impressive viewership, basketball fans on social media quickly discounted the Hawkeyes’ championship contention, citing concerns about the team’s reliance on Clark and sophomore forward Hannah Stuelke.

HIGHLIGHTS from Caitlin Clark’s LAST home game with Iowa | NCAA Tournament:

However, Clark reassured the team’s supporters, expressing optimism in their ability to win games even in the face of poor shooting performances.

“There’s a lot of positive to take away from this when maybe we didn’t even play our best basketball or look as pretty,” Clark said. “That’s more fulfilling of a win for us than going out there and winning by 30 points.”

“I think we used our crowd,” Clark continued. “We gave up a 10-0 run to start the quarter, but this team was never flustered. It speaks to our experience. Wanted to go out on a high note.”

Clark and Iowa struggled shooting the ball during their win

Iowa struggled with shooting efficiency, managing a low 36 percent field goal percentage for the game and a season-low tally of seven assists.

Of their total of 64 points, 25 were scored from free throws, with the team shooting an exceptional 30 attempts from the charity stripe.

The Mountaineers attempted just five free throws during the entire game and only scored six points in the second quarter.

These statistics further heightened concerns regarding the Hawkeyes’ chances of winning the whole tournament, with physical players such as Stanford’s Cameron Brink and LSU’s Angel Reese remaining in the hunt.

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) reaches out to block a shot by West Virginia guard Kyah Watson

Apart from the rare shooting off-night, the Hawkeyes have demonstrated excellence from beyond the arc this season, averaging 11.1 3-pointers made per game. In contrast, they have allowed their opponents to make an average of 7.9 3-pointers per game.

When Iowa shoots at their season average from long range, the team is undefeated with 14 wins and no losses.

The No. 1 seed Hawkeyes are set to square off against No. 5 Colorado in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday. According to several sportsbooks, Iowa is a seven-point favorite to win the game. The highly anticipated matchup will be broadcast on ABC at 3:30 p.m. ET from the MVP Arena in Albany, New York.

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