Iowa guard Caitlin Clark closing in on 3,000 career points

Caitlin Clark is 22 points shy of 3,000 career points. She is averaging 29.0 PPG this season, and has scored at least 22 points in eight of nine games this season. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Lisa Bluder thinks Hilton Coliseum might be "the most hostile environment" her Iowa Hawkeyes have played in this season, but Caitlin Clark still might make history there.

The senior guard and Iowa travel to Iowa State on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN App) for the latest chapter in their longtime rivalry. Clark is closing in on becoming the 15th player in the NCAA era to reach 3,000 points.

The game is an advance sellout, with the No. 4 Hawkeyes (8-1) facing the Cyclones (4-3) for the 54th time in the programs' history. Iowa leads the series 30-23 and has won six of the past seven meetings.

With Ames just 41 miles north of Clark's high school in West Des Moines, plenty of Hawkeyes and Clark fans should be there, too.

"Everywhere we go, it seems like it's sold-out environments," the coach told media members Monday. "At Hilton, they have a great home-court advantage and a great fan base."

Clark needs 22 points to reach 3,000; she is averaging 29.0 PPG. Former Washington star Kelsey Plum is the all-time leading scorer in the NCAA era, which dates to the 1981-82 season.

Plum, who has won the past two WNBA titles with the Las Vegas Aces, scored 3,527 points with the Huskies from 2013 to 2017 and is one of three active WNBA players in the NCAA's top five in scoring, joining the Indiana Fever's Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State, 3,042 points) and the Phoenix Mercury's Brittney Griner (Baylor, 3,283).

Only two players in the pre-NCAA era scored more points than Plum: Francis Marion's Pearl Moore (1975-79) with 3,884, and Kansas' Lynette Woodard (1977-81) with 3,649.

Clark is 549 points shy of tying Plum's record; she scored 799 as a freshman, 863 in her sophomore season and 1,055 last season. Per ESPN Stats & Information, Clark needs to average 26.2 PPG over Iowa's remaining 21 regular-season games to break the record in the regular-season finale, on senior day at home against Ohio State on March 3.

Coincidentally, the last player to reach the 3,000-point milestone was from Iowa State: Ashley Joens hit the mark in March on the way to leading the Cyclones to the Big 12 tournament championship. Joens finished her Iowa State career with 3,060 points.

Clark -- who is on the verge of becoming the first player in men's or women's Division I history with at least 3,000 points, 750 rebounds and 750 assists (she has already accomplished the latter two) -- and Joens are former AAU teammates with the All-Iowa Attack. Joens spent this past summer in the WNBA, and her younger sister, Kelsey Joens, is a freshman guard at Iowa State.

Caitlin Clark becomes Iowa's all-time leading scorer with triple-double

Caitlin Clark becomes Iowa's all-time scoring leader after dropping a 24-point triple-double against Northern Iowa.

Kelsey Joens is part of the Cyclones' youth movement. There are five freshmen, and two of them, Audi Crooks and Addy Brown, lead Iowa State in scoring at 16.0 PPG and 14.3 PPG.

Ashley Joens finished her fifth year in the program last year, and fellow starters Lexi Donarski (North Carolina) and Denae Fritz (Baylor) transferred. The lone returning full-time starter, point guard Emily Ryan, is dealing with a medical condition and has yet to play this season.

Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly knows his team has an experience deficit against the Hawkeyes, who have Clark and two fifth-year senior starters, Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall.

But will the Hawkeyes have one of their top post players? Sophomore Hannah Stuelke has missed the past three games because of injury. Bluder said she's uncertain if Stuelke will be back Wednesday.

Iowa's only loss to Iowa State in the past seven meetings came at Hilton Coliseum in December 2021, when Clark and Ashley Joens each scored 26 points in the Cyclones' 77-70 victory. The two times Clark has faced Iowa State at home in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes have won: 82-80 in December 2020 (Clark had 34 points) and 70-57 in December 2022 (Clark scored 19).

"Home court has meant a lot in this rivalry," Bluder said. "I think they'll do a great job of denying Caitlin and sagging off everybody else. That's a scheme they use a lot. We have to be ready for that. The way our other people have been shooting of late, hopefully, that's going to negate that a little bit."