The University of Iowa women's basketball team just drew more — way more — fans than a women's college basketball game has ever had before.
Sunday's exhibition match between Iowa and DePaul — called the "Crossover at Kinnick," because the game took place at the Iowa football team's Kinnick Stadium — drew 55,646 fans, according to the Big Ten Network. This incredible attendance almost doubles the previous record of 29,619 attendees at a women's college basketball game, set during the 2002 NCAA championship game at San Antonio's Alamodome.
The initial plan to play this exhibition game — which Iowa won 94-72 — at the outdoor Kinnick Stadium was hatched by Iowa's head coach, Lisa Bluder. According to ESPN, Bluder got the idea after 9,000 fans attended a school celebration in April after her Hawkeyes squad returned to campus following their NCAA championship game loss against LSU. However, Bluder had no idea just how successful the "Crossover at Kinnick" game would be.
Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes played in front of 55,646 fans at Iowa's football stadium ?
Most EVER for a women's basketball game
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 15, 2023
"You know, you can have an idea and it could fall flat if nobody shows up," Bluder said. "But, man, Hawk fans showed up today. Fifty-five thousand, breaking the record, getting to play outside. ... It was a dream. It really was. It was just fabulous."
Luckily for Bluder and the nearly 56,000 fans attending Sunday's game, the weather held steady. After it rained all week in Iowa, Sunday's game was played under partly cloudy skies, with temperatures in the 50s and a gusty wind swirling around the north end zone where the court was set up.
The wind did, however, effect some shots — including an air-balled free throw from Iowa's Caitlin Clark, the reigning national player of the year and projected first overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft.
"It was a little windy," Clark said when asked about Sunday's weather. "The cold was perfectly fine. It was a bit chilly, and I'm glad we play an indoor sport. I promise I'll never air-ball a free throw again. The wind took that one, for sure."
Considering Clark shot 83.9% from the free throw line last season, we'll take her word for it.
Not that the weather affected Clark's overall game. She finished the "Crossover at Kinnick" recording a triple double, tallying 34 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Sunday's record-shattering attendance is a sign of things to come for the Iowa women's basketball team, in more ways than one. Not only is every Iowa home game this season already sold out, but the return of Clark — plus most of last year's championship runner-up roster — surely means that more blow-out wins like Sunday's are in store.
With all of this hype, Iowa might need to plan more games for Kinnick Stadium.
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