Caitlin Clark’s crazy night helps Iowa women’s basketball overcome Maryland’s challenge. ‘I’m not gonna win by myself’ – Caitlin Clark (+VIDEO) Video in comment!

COLLEGE PARK, Md. − What a game. What a player.

As the spotlight continues to grow for Caitlin Clark, her game almost inexplicably reaches new levels.

On the FOX national stage and with her every move being streamed for two straight hours on TikTok, Clark warded off the boos and “air ball” chants from a raucous Maryland crowd in the coolest way she knows: delivering an aerial assault of deep 3-pointers, whizzing passes and spinning layups.

The Iowa women’s basketball senior shook off a brief injury scare and her fourth-ranked Hawkeyes staved off three separate Maryland onslaughts, earning a hard-fought 93-85 win Saturday night at the XFINITY Center.

Clark finished with 38 points and 12 assists as the Hawkeyes improved to 21-2 overall, 10-1 in Big Ten Conference play, while breaking a seven-game losing streak at Maryland for the program. The Hawkeyes lost here a year ago, 96-68, a game in which Clark was held to only 18 points. She hasn’t scored fewer than 21 since, a span of 33 games.

Maryland dropped to 12-10, 4-7, in taking its fourth straight loss.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been happy in this press room, so it feels pretty good,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Congratulations to Maryland on an outstanding atmosphere. I mean, it was loud in there. It was hard to communicate.”

Molly Davis’ dagger 3-pointer with 40 seconds left put the finishing touches on this Iowa win and this entertaining contest that was buzzing all night long. Davis finished with 17 points, and Kate Martin added 15 points and 10 rebounds. “Let’s Go Hawks!” chants from the spirited Hawkeye faithful capped the Iowa victory party.

The Hawkeyes outrebounded Maryland, 48-32, and had 17 offensive rebounds, including one from Sydney Affolter and a kick-out to Davis to give Iowa an 89-80 lead,

“Good things happen when we get O-boards,” Davis said. “I think Hannah had about three girls on her, so that’s why I was so open.”

Caitlin Clark's passing was as good as her shooting at times Saturday night at Maryland.

A sold-out crowd packed the place, where thousands of fans lined up at least 2½ hours before tip-off to get a seat to the fourth sellout in XFINITY Center history. The arena was probably 70/30 in Maryland white and was revved up after an 11-0 Terrapins blitz forced Bluder to call timeout just 2:56 into the game.

To that point, Iowa had gone six straight possessions without a point and trailed, 11-3. The pause in action, and in noise, seemed to calm the Hawkeyes down. A Martin spinning layup, a Davis 3-pointer and a deep 3 from Clark quickly rallied the Hawkeyes into an 11-11 tie.

By the time the first quarter ended (which included Clark wowing the TikTok crowd with an insanely deep 3-pointer in front of FOX broadcaster Gus Johnson for a 17-13 advantage), Iowa was leading, 27-19, and had gone 7-for-9 from deep to tie a program record for most 3s in one quarter.

Clark had 23 points by halftime, despite a second-quarter body blow that sent her crumpling to Gary Williams Court. Thankfully, her absence was a short one – only 66 seconds – and she just seemed to have the wind knocked out of her.

The Terrapins weren’t going to go quietly, though, not against an opponent they had never lost to at home since joining the Big Ten in 2014. A 23-3 Maryland surge in the third quarter erased a 58-40 Iowa lead. Maryland made nine straight field-goal attempts to start the period. But Clark’s three assists and cool 3-pointer from the right wing plus two free throws sent the Hawkeyes back in front to end the third, 73-66.

Maryland still wasn’t done. The Terps clawed back to tie it, 76-76. But when crisis strikes, Clark is always there. The senior star buried a deep 3 from the left side (her favorite spot) and then dished a beauty of a pass to Sydney Affolter for an 81-76 lead with 5:25 left.

Clark was right, at 76-76, the XFINITY Center was as loud as it was all night. She quickly silenced them.

“That was a huge play in the game and when the crowd’s loud, you’ve got to tune them out,” Clark said. “I thought we did a really good job of that.”

Affolter’s 3 (on a gorgeous kick-out from Clark) pushed the advantage to 84-78 with 3:29 left, and finally Iowa was a little closer to exhaling and collecting a big road win.

Clark’s 38 points give her 3,462 in her career. She is now just 66 shy of breaking Kelsey Plum’s NCAA career record of 3,527.

Every win is imperative for the Hawkeyes, who are seeking more than just an outright Big Ten Conference regular-season title. They’d love to get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, eventually, too.

They entered Saturday in a three-way tie atop the Big Ten standings with No. 7 Ohio State (which beat Iowa in Columbus) and No. 9 Indiana (which lost in Iowa City), at 9-1 in conference play. The Hoosiers play at Ohio State at Noon CT on Sunday.

“This is a big win for our program,” Clark said. “Anytime you can steal a single-play win on the road is huge in the Big Ten standings.”

Iowa next hosts Penn State (16-6, 7-4) at 8 p.m. Thursday, followed by a Super Bowl Sunday trip to Nebraska (14-8, 6-5).

Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow has covered sports for 29 years with The Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Sports Network. Join Chad’s text-message group (free for subscribers) at Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.

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