McKenna Warnock pulled down the game-winning offensive rebound and Kaitlin Clark sealed a 77–73 national semifinal victory for the No. 2 seed Iowa Hawkeyes with a 4-of-4 effort at the free throw line on Friday night. at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Clark finished with an NCAAW semifinal-record 41 points, eight assists and six rebounds as the Hawkeyes knocked off the undefeated, national championship-defending No. 1 overall seed South Carolina Gamecocks, a team that some considered unbeatable.
Clark recorded a 30-point triple-double in the NCAAW tournament for the first time in his previous outing (he had a 40-point triple-double).
Warnock’s offensive rebound came when Aliyah Boston forced the ball to fumble, and Iowa retained possession, 73–71. Clarke then made a deep, step-back dagger three that went off the backboard and Warnock pulled it in with 21 seconds remaining. South Carolina had to foul twice before sending Clark to the line, where she went 2-of-2. With 14 seconds remaining.
Raven Johnson then rebounded a Jia Cook miss from the perimeter and made a quick layup that kept hope alive for the Gamecocks, cutting their deficit to 75–73 with nine ticks to go.
After two more Clark free throws, South Carolina was less successful on the offensive end. Boston missed a three and Leticia Amihere nailed the rebound out of bounds at 2.9 ticks. Clark was able to run away from the foul and ran down the rest of the clock.
Johnson, an incoming 21.2-percent 3-point shooter, was left open all night and made it to cut South Carolina’s deficit to 57–55, 59–58 and 69–68, the last of which Coming in at 4:25 left. But Clark made a crucial off-hand layup with 3:32 left to make it 71–68.
At 1:17, Clark made the same simple blow-by right side drive for a layup that he had made to open the game’s scoring, this time to make the score 73–69. It looked as though the game might be right there; That Clarke scoring the easiest point in a full-circle moment would be the nail in the coffin for the Gamecocks. But Cook responded with a layup 57 seconds before the end sequence began.
The Gamecocks took the lead at 60–59, but Clarke threes gave Iowa advantages of 62–60 and 67–62.
Iowa led 22–13 after one and again had a very comfortable lead in the third, going 46–37 on a Kate Martin layup and 48–39 on an Addison O’Grady layup. O’Grady, in play for Monica Cizzinano, who was in foul trouble, also had a layup to make it 44–37.
The Gamecocks cut it to two three times over the remainder of the third. Bre Beal scored inside to cut it to 51–49, Boston made two free throws to cut it to 53–51, and Johnson made three field goals to make it 57–55. Iowa led 59–55 entering the fourth.
One minute and 43 seconds into the second, Cooks drove right through the middle of the Iowa defense for a lay-in and cut it to 24–21 before converting another foul on Clark into a 3-point play. The Hawkeyes went up six at 31–25, but South Carolina’s next run would result in the lead.
Kamila Cardoso made a layup after a steal and then Amihere converted on a 3-point play and Cizzinano’s second foul. One more Amihere layup later and the Gamecocks were in front 32–31.
The rest of the second was a thrilling back-and-forth affair. Clark hit a deep three to make Iowa 34–32 before Bree Hall answered with a three that made it 35–34 South Carolina. Seven seconds later, Hannah Stuelke put the Hawkeyes back on top with a transition layup. Iowa would lead 38–37 at the break.
Clark kept things simple in the first quarter. He scored twice on basic driving layups from the top of the key, where he beat his defender with ease and took it all the way with his strong arm. She also missed a layup on one such play, but was fouled and made both free throws with 10 seconds remaining before the second.
Iowa went on a 7–0 run for a 20–11 lead. It featured a Martin three after the Hawkeyes pressured Cardoso into a bad-pass turnover.
Czinano added 18 points in the winning cause. Cook finished with 24 and eight boards, while Cardoso was good for 14 and 14.