Every week throughout the 2020-21 season, the NCAA.com Starting Five will highlight the top women’s basketball players in the country. Here are the standouts from the past week:
Caitlin Clark, Iowa
Showing no signs of slowing down during her standout freshman season, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark averaged 26.3 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds, added three blocks, three steals, and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line as the Hawkeye went 2-1 during a busy week.
Against No. 8 Maryland on Feb. 23, Clark posted 29 points in the first half to break the program’s all-time freshman scoring record. She finished the game with 34 points, marking her fifth consecutive and NCAA-leading ninth game this season scoring 30-or-more points. Her nine 30-point games are believed to be the most by an NCAA Division I freshman since 2000. Clark made a career-best nine 3-pointers, the most for a Hawkeye since Melissa Dixon registered nine at Northwestern on Jan. 29, 2015. Clark finished the game with seven assists, three rebounds, and a steal.
After a five-hour delay, Clark led the Hawkeyes to an 89-67 win over 12th-ranked Michigan on Feb. 25. The West Des Moines, Iowa, native netted 27 points, dished out nine assists and grabbed five rebounds. She was 7-for-12 (.583) from 3-point range and 10-for-17 (.588) from the field.
In Iowa’s final game of the week, an 84-70 win at Wisconsin on Feb. 28, Clark recorded her seventh double-double of the season, knocking down 18 points and dishing out a career-high 14 assists. Clark broke the Iowa women’s basketball all-time freshman assist record. She has 149 on the season, surpassing former Hawkeye Kathleen Doyle, who recorded 148 during the 2016-17 season. Clark added seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
Clark leads the nation in total points, recording 564 on the season. She ranks second in assists (149), assists per game (7.1), points per game (26.9), 3-pointers made (82), triple-doubles (1), and 3-point field goal attempts (202).
She ranks in the top-50, nationally, in seven additional statistical categories, including third in field goals made (188) and 3-pointers per game (3.9), eighth in field goal attempts (394), 17th in free throws made (106), 28th in free throw attempts (125), 44th in 3-point percentage (40.6), and 45th in free-throw percentage (84.8).
The Hawkeyes, 14-7 overall and 10-7 in Big Ten play will next travel to Indiana on March 3.
Daryn Hickok, Weber State
Weber State’s Daryn Hickok averaged 25 points, seven rebounds and two steals per game and shot 62 percent from the field in leading Weber State to two home wins last week over Sacramento State.
Hickok scored 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds in both games. She was 9 of 13 from the field and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line in Thursday’s 79-73 win over the Hornets.
She followed that up with 25 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks while shooting 9 of 16 from the field and 5 of 6 from the free-throw line in Saturday’s 75-69 overtime win over the Hornets.
For the two games, she was 18 of 29 from the field and 11 of 12 from the free-throw line.
On the season, the Portland, Oregon native leads the Wildcats in scoring at 12.3 points per game.
Weber State, 2-17 overall and 2-14 in Big Sky Conference games, closes out the regular season with games at Northern Colorado on March 3 and 5 before the Big Sky Tournament begins next Monday.
Lauren Park-Lane, Seton Hall
Seton Hall sophomore Lauren Park-Lane was instrumental in the Pirates’ success in a pair of road victories last week, averaging 18.5 points and 10.0 assists per game in wins over Xavier and Villanova.
On Monday, March 1, Seton Hall won its fifth straight game, this time over St. John’s (NY) 59-43, as Desiree Elmore erupted for a career-high 30 points and Park-Lane backed her with 13 points of her own.
On Feb. 24 at Xavier, Park-Lane recorded her first career double-double, scoring 17 points and dishing out a career-high 15 assists as the Pirates rolled to a 108-65 win. Her 15 assists broke Seton Hall’s single-game record that stood for 25 years. On Saturday at Villanova, Park-Lane reached 20 points for the fifth time this season to go with five more assists as Seton Hall won 67-55.
For the season, Park-Lane is averaging 17.4 points per game and has now dished out 101 assists (5.6 per game) to lead the Pirates. Seton Hall, 14-6 overall and 12-5 in Big East Conference play, will enter the upcoming Big East Tournament as the No. 3 seed. The Pirates will play the winner of the No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 11 Georgetown game on Saturday, March 6.
Taylor Robertson, Oklahoma
Playing its best basketball of the season over the last week, Oklahoma has won three straight games behind the strong play of guard Taylor Robertson.
Robertson averaged 21.0 points per game and shot 52.0% (13-for-25) in two Sooner wins last week over TCU and Texas, then had 16 points on Monday in a victory over Texas Tech.
In the 76-60 win at TCU on Feb. 24, Robertson scored a season-high 28 points on 10-for-16 shooting, including six made 3-pointers. The junior also pulled down five rebounds and added three steals at TCU.
In the 69-63 overtime win at Texas on Feb. 27, Robertson scored 14 points and connected on 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.
The Sooners then defeated Texas Tech 88-79 on March 1. As part of her 16 points, Robertson connected on seven of eight free throws. The one miss at the charity stripe was her first miss of the season, as she has now connected on 50 of 51 free throws in 2020-21 (98.0 percent).
The Sooners, 11-10 overall and 8-8 in Big 12 Conference play, are home for the last two games of the regular season, hosting TCU on March 4 and Kansas State on March 7.
IImar’I Thomas, Cincinnati
Cincinnati senior forward IImar’I Thomas scored a school and conference-record 51 points on 20-of-27 shooting from the field and 11-of-13 shooting from the free-throw line to go with 12 rebounds and four assists in a 76-61 win at East Carolina last Wednesday.
The effort marks the most points scored by a men’s or women’s basketball player this season. She also joined Oscar Robertson as the only two players in Cincinnati history to score at least 50 points in a game. Robertson achieved the feat six times, the last coming against North Texas on Feb. 22, 1960, when he scored a men’s program school-record 62 points.
With the feat, Thomas surpassed 1,800 career points to become the only player in school history to tally at least 1,800 career points and 800 career rebounds.
Thomas followed that performance by scoring a game-high 28 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the floor and 12-of-15 shooting from the foul line to go with nine rebounds and three blocks during a 71-58 win at Tulsa on Saturday.
For the week, Thomas averaged 39.5 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 68.3 percent from the field and 82.1 percent from the free-throw line.
Thomas is averaging 23.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists while averaging 39.3 minutes this season. She has scored 30 or more points four times and 20 or more points in 15 games in 2020-21. She has played 38 or more minutes in 17 of 21 games this season and 40 or more minutes 11 times.
Thomas enters the week ranked among the nation’s top 30 in seven categories for 2020-21, including points per game (seventh at 23.6), minutes played per game (second at 39.3), field goals made (fifth at 185), total points (seventh at 496), free throws made (10th at 117), free throws attempted (15th at 144), field goal percentage (25th at .544) and field goal attempts (28th at 340).
Cincinnati, 6-15 overall and 5-11 in American Athletic Conference play, closed the regular season with a March 2 game at Houston.