09 Jan

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark already breaking records; LSU, UConn fall

The first week of the 2023-24 women’s college basketball season was filled with both the expected and unexpected. While Dawn Staley is reminding everyone that South Carolina should never be overlooked, preseason favorites LSU and UConn have already suffered their first losses of the year.

Speaking of expected, Iowa star Caitlin Clark already has her first triple-double of the season. The reigning national player of the year is playing as good as ever, but she will have some serious competition for the spotlight with UConn’s Paige Bueckers returning, LSU and Angel Reese chasing another national title, and freshmen across the country already making names for themselves.

Here are some of the top moments from Week 1, as well as some of the main storylines and games to watch over the coming days.

Bucket of the week: MiLaysia Fulwiley, South Carolina
MiLaysia Fulwiley made quite the statement during her college debut last week. The freshman helped the Gamecocks get a 100-71 win over Notre Dame in Paris by registering 17 points, six assists, one block and six steals.

That’s an impressive stat line for a freshman, but one basket in particular was described by NBA legend Magic Johnson as “the best move in all of basketball.”

“THE EIFFEL TOWER IS SHAKING”!! OH MY GOODNESS 😱 pic.twitter.com/mpxRrCrS7y

— South Carolina Women’s Basketball (@GamecockWBB) November 6, 2023
The future is HER. Holy Milaysia Fulwiley ⁦@GamecockWBB⁩ pic.twitter.com/u3Em9XpWYD

— Holly Rowe (@sportsiren) November 6, 2023
Dish of the week: Nika Muhl, UConn
Nika Muhl is no stranger to no-look passes, and they are always a joy to watch. Early in the second quarter against Dayton, the senior guard came from behind to intercept a pass, then followed that steal with a no-look assist to teammate Aubrey Griffin. Cold as ice.

Nika Mühl was READY

She gets the steal and the no-look assist to Aubrey Griffin pic.twitter.com/EUcFijenV7

— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) November 9, 2023
Muhl finished the night with 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. The Huskies went on to defeat Dayton, 102-58.

Stop of the week: Cameron Brink, Stanford
As Stanford put it, Cameron Brink created a “five-second masterpiece” as she registered her 300th career block. The 2023 WBCA Defensive Player of the Year is a brick wall in the paint, and she is making her case for another award early this season.

In Sunday’s game against Indiana, Brink blocked a shot from senior guard Sydney Parrish in the first quarter. She then took possession of the ball, ran down the court and passed it to Elena Bosgana, who knocked down a 3-pointer. Brink ended the day with a double-double of 14 points and 17 rebounds, adding two assists, five blocks and a steal.

A five-second masterpiece 👩‍🎨🏀

The 300th career block, leading the break, finding Elena, the wide open 3-pointer. All of it 😙🤌#GoStanford pic.twitter.com/WcLndqA4x6

— Stanford Women’s Basketball (@StanfordWBB) November 13, 2023
Game of the week: No. 3 Iowa vs. No. 8 Virginia Tech
The Hawkeyes pulled off an 80-76 victory over the Hokies in a Battle of the Titans on Thursday, a competitive contest in which the lead changed hands 11 times.

Iowa star Caitlin Clark didn’t have the greatest shooting night, but she still had a monster game from a volume perspective with 44 points, eight rebounds and six assists. That was her 38th career 30-point game, tying Kelsey Plum’s record for the most such games in the last 25 years.

Can’t keep Caitlin Clark in check 💪 pic.twitter.com/IJJJgWojWF

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 10, 2023
Virginia Tech’s Georgia Amoore also deserves to be discussed because she was a tough cover for Iowa’s defensive specialist Gabbie Marshall. Amoore reached a career-high 31 points on 10-of-23 shooting and drained a career-best seven 3-pointers. One of those 3-point makes was a half-court buzzer beater to end the first quarter.

GEORGIA AMOORE CRUSHES A HALF-COURT SHOT TO END THE FIRST QUARTER 🤯🤯🤯@HokiesWBB x @espnW pic.twitter.com/M44aiTEhFU

— ACC Women’s Basketball (@accwbb) November 10, 2023
Clark and Amoore had plenty to say about each other’s talent after the game.

“She’s literally been gifted by every God you can imagine,” Amoore told reporters. “She’s insane. … She’s a generational talent.”

“Georgia [Amoore] is one of the best guards in the country,” Clark said. “I think that’s pretty obvious.”

Biggest storylines from Week 1
No. 1 LSU and No. 2 UConn both fall

According to the Associated Press, this was the second time in history the preseason No. 1 and No. 2 teams did not remain in the top two spots after Week 1.

LSU became the first reigning champion to lose a season opener since 1995 after getting upset 92-78 by Colorado last Monday. The Tigers entered the season as the top team in the nation by returning their leading scorer, Angel Reese, while adding former Louisville star Hailey Van Lith and the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation.

“I’m disappointed and surprised in some individual players that I thought would just be tougher and have a little fight and leadership about them,” LSU coach Kim Mulkey said after the loss.

LSU becomes the first defending Division I @MarchMadnessWBB champion to lose in its season opener since UConn in 1995-96.

Huge win for @CUBuffsWBB‼️ pic.twitter.com/TDGd6MOEzv

— CBS Sports College Basketball 🏀 (@CBSSportsCBB) November 7, 2023
Meanwhile, the Huskies took care of business against Dayton with a 102-58 win last Wednesday. However, they struggled against a then-unranked NC State team on Sunday and fell 92-81. The Wolfpack was victorious behind a breakout performance by junior guard Saniya Rivers, who recorded 33 points to go along with 10 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and three steals.

UConn’s Paige Bueckers returns
The UConn star returned to the floor against Dayton after 584 days of not playing. Bueckers won 11 major awards as a freshman during the 2020-21 campaign, but the 2021 national player of the year battled injuries her sophomore year and missed all of last season after tearing her ACL.

Bueckers is hoping to come back stronger than before, but understandably it will take her some time to get fully comfortable again. Nevertheless, she put up a respectable eight points, seven rebounds, four assists and a steal in her first game back, a dominant 102-58 victory over Dayton. Bueckers looked more like herself in a losing effort against NC State, registering 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting.

Paige Bueckers back to getting buckets after 584 days!

8 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST in 21 MINSpic.twitter.com/k4kN8iVcjP

— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 9, 2023
South Carolina’s offense off to strong start
South Carolina notched a program first by clearing 100 points in each of its first two games, taking down top-15 teams in Notre Dame (100-71) and Maryland (114-76). The 114 points the Gamecocks scored against Maryland were also the most points they have ever scored against a ranked opponent.

Caitlin Clark breaks Iowa’s all-time scoring record
During Sunday’s 94-53 victory against Northern Iowa, Clark broke the Hawkeyes’ all-time scoring record of 2,804 points set by Megan Gustafson in 2019. The senior put her name in the history books with a spin into a bank shot.

Clark finished the night with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, marking her 12th career triple-double. By virtue of her performance, Clark joins former Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu as the second player in women’s college basketball history to have a triple-double in four separate seasons.

That’s the record breaker. Caitlin Clark is Iowa’s all time leading scorer, passing Megan Gustafson. pic.twitter.com/o99yszgvcq

— Mark Woodley (@MarkWoodleyTV) November 12, 2023
You are the best! Thanks goat🤍 https://t.co/YEgTtqAAtn

— Caitlin Clark (@CaitlinClark22) November 12, 2023
The Pac-12 goes undefeated
This is the last season of the Pac-12 as we know it, and the conference of champions is sure making a statement. The Pac-12 entered the 2023-24 campaign with six teams ranked in the AP Top 25 poll, and none of them disappointed in Week 1. Everyone in the conference took care of business and went a combined 28-0.

On Monday, the conference’s excellence was rewarded with five of those teams leaping into the top 10. Here’s where the Pac-12 stands in the rankings after one week of play:

No. 3 UCLA
No. 4 Utah
No. 5 Colorado
No. 6 Stanford
No. 10 USC
No. 24 Washington State
Matchups to watch:
No. 4 Utah at No. 21 Baylor | Tuesday, Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m. ET | Big 12 Now on ESPN+: This will be the first time Baylor hosts a top-five opponent at the Ferrell Center since 2018-19, and it will certainly be a big test. The Bears have only played one game this season, and that was an 85-53 victory against the Southern Jaguars on Nov. 6. The Utes are an experienced team with all five starters from last season’s squad that went 27-5.

No. 20 Maryland at No. 8 UConn | Thursday, Nov. 16, 6:30 p.m. ET | FS1: Maryland coach Brenda Frese is clearly preparing her team for March because her squad has a very tough non-conference schedule. The Terrapins have already faced South Carolina, a game they lost 114-76, and they’ll try and bounce back against a UConn team hungry to avenge its upset defeat to NC State.

Kansas State at No. 2 Iowa | Thursday, Nov. 16, 8:30 p.m. ET | FS1: A win in Iowa City would be huge for Kansas State, which sits on the fringes of the top 25, and it really isn’t far-fetched. The Wildcats upset the Hawkeyes, 84 83, during their most recent meeting on Nov. 17, 2022.

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