Clark's supporting cast highlight record-setting day in pursuit of the ultimate goal

While the world and the Buckeyes kept a close eye on Caitlin Clark, her teammates showed why the Iowa Hawkeyes are more than a one-woman show.
Ohio State v Iowa
Ohio State v Iowa / Matthew Holst/GettyImages

Caitlin Clark got the 18 points she needed in the first half of her final 'official' home game at Carver-Hawkeye Stadium, sinking a pair of free throws to pass "Pistol" Pete Marovich for the NCAA all-time scoring record.

A historic environment, complete with legends and superstar celebrities in attendance, made for a pressured situation as both teams and the fans in attendance waited for history to happen. The Buckeyes held to a game plan to suffocate Clark, and it worked on many occasions. Far from a bad game, nearing a double-double with 33 points and nine assists to go with six rebounds, Clark's game was impacted enough to justifiably, and understandably, consider it an off day as she shot 10-26 from the field and 6-17 from three.

With all eyes on Clark, her teammates, including four other seniors on Senior Night, were called upon to give the support necessary to walk away with a 93-83 victory over the Buckeyes.

The Hawkeyes shined as a collective unit, especially on defense, holding Cotie McMahon to 10 points and Taylor Thierry to 11. While Jacy Sheldon led the way with 24 and nine assists, she had trouble breaking through until some late surges climbed her numbers.

Locking down defensively, and in multiple manners by finding success in man and zone schemes, is exactly what the Hawkeyes need to find themselves in position to achieve the ultimate goal of winning a national championship.

The offensive support was equally notable. Gabbie Marshall hit four of her seven three-point attempts to put 12 on the board. But arguably the biggest assist to Clark's historic night was the play of sophomore Hannah Stuelke.

Stuelke was on the receiving end of several of Clark's assists, slashing to open space under the basket for easy scores and making splash plays in transition. Her nine rebounds were equaled only by Kate Martin, but three for Stuelke were offensive leading to second chances to keep the Buckeyes at bay. Her 23 points were crucial to alleviate the Buckeye's defensive pressure on Clark.

While Clark is the superstar of the program, it does take a team to win a national championship. She doesn't expect to do it alone and humbly shares her accolades with her teammates. And to be frank, Iowa is the No. 6 team in the nation for a reason. Even still, performances like this, when the world is watching and all of the distractions and pressures that come with playing with and for a player like Clark, are the difference in achieving the ultimate goal.

It's commendable that players like Marshall, Martin and Stuelke are sharing the pressure on Clark and capitalizing on one of the biggest moments of the season so far in an emotional setting. Clark is already extraordinary and her ability to elevate her teammates is evident in every outing. As a collective, they are a threat to every team ranked above them that is supposedly more complete or well-rounded.

Stringing together these types of performances is the goal now. Because, while everyone has enjoyed watching Clark achieve personal achievements and individual records and awards, everyone in Hawkeye nation wants to see the team get its flowers too.

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