Allegany Communications Sports­­

Caitlin Clark became the all-time women’s leading scorer in major college basketball Wednesday night by scoring 33 points to pass Lynette Woodard, posting her 17th career triple-double for sixth-ranked Iowa in a 108-60 victory over Minnesota.

Clark now has 3,650 career points, while Woodard had 3,649 points for Kansas in 1977-81, before the NCAA sanctioned women’s sports. Earlier this month, Clark broke Kelsey Plum’s NCAA scoring record (3,527 points), and also broke the NCAA single-season record on Wednesday by sinking eight 3-pointers for a total of 156 in 2023-24.

Clark is now 17 points shy of Pete Maravich’s NCAA career scoring record of 3,667 points, needing 18 points to surpass it, which she is likely to do Sunday against No. 2 Ohio State.

Maravich starred at LSU for three seasons (1967-70) long before college basketball had a shot clock, which he wouldn’t have even been aware of had there been one, and averaged 44.2 points across three seasons, as freshmen were not allowed to play varsity in those days.

Look at that again: Maravich averaged 44.2 points per game over three seasons. That is as astounding as he was.

Clark, a senior averaging 28.3 points during her career, is in her fourth season, and has played in 129 games to Maravich’s 83 games.

Playing for his father Press Maravich at LSU, Pete averaged 39, 37 and 37 shots per game during his career with a .438 shooting percentage, putting up a then-record 69 points against Alabama in 1970, and averaged more than a point per minute for his career. His seasons of 43.8, 44.2 and 44.5 account for the three highest-scoring averages in NCAA history.

No NCAA Division I men’s player has averaged more than 31 points since 1991.

Known as “Pistol Pete” and for his old, floppy socks that he wore through his college and pro careers for good luck, Maravich was the most fundamentally-sound player of his or any time until Larry Bird came along at Indiana State.

He was also the best and the most spectacular passer since Bob Cousy, but did things with the ball that neither Cousy nor anyone since has ever imagined — so much so that Magic Johnson freely admitted he copied many of Maravich’s never-before-seen no-look, behind-the-back or 50-foot bounce passes.

There are many of the same traits in Clark’s game, who shoots far less (19.9 per game) and for a higher percentage (.466) than Maravich did, but who is an automatic scorer, far beyond fundamentally sound and an extremely gifted passer as well.

On top of all else, fans from all over stop to watch Caitlin Clark whenever an Iowa game is on their television or in their town, as the Hawkeyes have played to nothing but sellouts for the past two seasons.

That was the case as well with Maravich. In fact, he and Lew Alcindor and the UCLA dynasty were appointment television. It was Maravich and Alcindor in the 1960s who put college basketball on the map, on national television and in the awareness of the sporting public.

As for the record Clark is about to set and own, there have been debates as to whether or not it should be a record, because Maravich played fewer games in fewer seasons and without the 3-point shot; but these are such silly debates to have.

Of course it should be a record and, once she sets it, it will be Caitlin Clark’s record, because she will have scored more points in a career than any other NCAA basketball player — man or woman — will have ever scored.

When Roger Maris hit 61 home runs in 1961 during the first season Major League Baseball played 162 games, Babe Ruth’s old pal and former ghostwriter, Commissioner Ford Frick, cruelly ruled that an asterisk should stand beside the number in the record book, because in Ruth’s time they played 154-game seasons.

But the truth is, Roger Maris had hit more home runs in a single season than any player had before; therefore, he was the MLB record-holder for the most home runs in a single season.

While the circumstances surrounding Barry Bonds, the current single-season and career home run record-holder, make us cringe, the truth is, steroids or no steroids, he still holds both records.

Thus, while the legacy of Pete Maravich carries a prominent place in the minds of so many of us who are old enough to have seen him play and appreciate all he continues to mean to college basketball — the men’s game and the women’s game — in the matter of just 18 more points, Iowa’s spectacular Caitlin Clark is going to be the NCAA basketball record-holder for most points scored in a career, which is something we should celebrate rather than debate.

As the great Henry Aaron said after hitting career home run No. 715 to surpass Ruth’s previous record of 714, “I don’t want people to forget Babe Ruth. I just want them to remember Henry Aaron.”

And long after her playing days are behind her, we will remember Caitlin Clark, just as we continue to remember the great Pistol Pete Maravich.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT