Caitlin Clark and Iowa are advancing in the women’s NCAA tournament, but they had to overcome a slow start against No. 16 Holy Cross first.

Clark recorded 27 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds, three steals and a block by the time she checked out of the 91-65 win with a little over four minutes left.

After turning in another dominant performance, the 22-year-old was candid about Iowa’s room for improvement.

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) adjusts a headband during a timeout in the first half of a first-round college basketball game against Holy Cross in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 23, 2024, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

“I thought [Holy Cross] made a lot of shots, I thought they competed really well. Gotta give credit to them,” Clark said on broadcast after the game.



“I don’t know that we really played our best basketball. Obviously a little rust.

I thought we could have just executed our offense a little better. They really compacted the paint, but I thought we responded really well. We always had an answer.”

Holy Cross entered Saturday’s matchup with all odds against them. They beat UT-Martin in a play-in game Thursday night to land in the round of 64, placing them in the center of Caitlin Clark Mania.

As a No. 1 seed, the Hawkeyes had the advantage to host in Iowa City, Iowa, where a sold-out crowd of almost 15,000 frenzied fans gathered to watch Clark. It was a far cry from Holy Cross’ stadium in Massachusetts, which only has 3,536 seats.

Caitlin Clark, Iowa vs. Holy Cross score and live updates: Hawkeyes secure first-round win in NCAA Women's Tournament



But somehow, the Crusaders seemed to open with the advantage. They brought physicality immediately and forced nine turnovers in the first half, six of which were committed by Clark. She appeared to get hit in the face in the second quarter.

After a review, officials deemed the foul to be excessive. While she made both of her free throws, her visible frustration seemed to build from that point. Walking off the court at halftime, she got into a heated exchange with an official.

By the third quarter, the Hawkeyes seemed to find their footing, which carried through the rest of the game.

The rocky start could partially be attributed to the Iowa’s dramatic journey to March Madness, which saw them beat Nebraska in overtime.

Next, the team will face the winner of No. 8 West Virginia vs. No. 9 Princeton.


This story will be updated.