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Rick Nixon | | March 2, 2022

Iowa's Caitlin Clark stars in the final women's basketball Starting Five of the season

2022 NCAA tournament women's bracket predictions on the first day of March

Last week presented a number of standout performances in DI women's college basketball, here are five of the best through games played Monday, February 28.

Caitlin Clark, Iowa

Iowa sophomore Caitlin Clark was named Big Ten Conference Player of the Week seven times this season, the latest coming on Monday after Clark averaged 33 points, 9.3 assists and 7.7 rebounds per game as the Hawkeyes scored three wins last week, two over top-10 foes.

In the Hawkeyes’ 104-80 win over No. 6 Michigan on Feb. 27, the West Des Moines, Iowa, native posted her 14th season and 23rd career double-double, knocking down 38 points and assisting 11 shots for her teammates. She shot 72.7 percent from 3-point range (8-for-11) and 61.1 percent from the field (11-for-18).

Clark had a team-high 32 points, nine rebounds and nine assists as Iowa outlasted Rutgers, 87-78, on Feb. 24.

On Feb. 21, Iowa upset then No. 10 Indiana, 88-82, as Clark was just shy of a triple-double with 29 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Clark posted two perfect games from the free-throw line, including making 9-of-9 against Indiana and 8-of-8 against Michigan, shooting 92.9 percent for the week.

Clark and the No. 12 Hawkeyes will face the winner of Minnesota vs. Northwestern on Friday, March 4 at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.

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Camille Downs, Norfolk State

Mid-Eastern Conference Player and Defensive Player of the Week, Norfolk State senior guard Camille Downs had two dominant performances in a pair of wins, averaging 18.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 7.5 steals, and 3.5 assists per game.

Downs came up one steal short of a triple-double on Saturday in a 68-29 win over South Carolina State, finishing with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and nine steals. She followed it up with another double-double on Monday where she scored 22 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and had six steals in a 71-63 win over North Carolina Central.

Norfolk State, 14-10 overall and 10-3 in the MEAC, will close out the regular season on March 3 at home against Howard.

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Rhyne Howard, Kentucky

Kentucky closed the regular season with six straight wins as senior guard Rhyne Howard led the way down the stretch.

The Wildcats defeated Missouri 78-63 on the road on Feb. 24 as Howard totaled 19 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocked shots as Kentucky claimed back-to-back road wins in the SEC by 15-plus points for the first time since 2016. The double-double against Missouri was her team-leading 10th of the season. 

Kentucky celebrated Rhyne Howard Day on Sunday vs. Auburn, winning 90-62, as the guard played her final game inside Memorial Coliseum and went out in style. Howard scored 32 points in the game, which is the most points ever by a Kentucky senior on Senior Day. The performance moved Howard into the top-25 all-time in scoring in the SEC, currently placing 24th with 2,185 points. Howard hit eight 3-point field goals in the game, which was a new school record. Her 32 points were a season-high and the performance gave her the second-most 30-point games in school history with nine.

So far this season, Howard is leading Kentucky by averaging 20.4 points per game, pulling down 7.7 rebounds per game with 85 assists, 67 steals, 34 blocks and a team best 58 3-pointers. Howard ranks high nationally in several categories, including 16th nationally in points per game and 29th nationally in steals per game. Howard ranks first in the Southeastern Conference in points per game, while she is third in steals per game, third in field-goals made and fifth in free-throw percentage.

Kentucky, 15-11 overall and 8-8 in the SEC, will play next at the SEC Tournament in Nashville, matching up against Mississippi State on March 3.

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Lauren Park-Lane, Seton Hall

Junior guard Lauren Park-Lane led Seton Hall to a pair of wins last week over Butler and DePaul, averaging 24.0 points and 12.0 assists per game.

Against Butler on Feb. 22, Park-Lane notched a double-double with 17 points and a career-high 18 assists. Her 18 assists shattered Seton Hall's single-game record of 15 set by Park-Lane last year, and tied a Big East Conference record.

On Friday in a thrilling 94-90 win over DePaul, Park-Lane erupted for a game-high 31 points, which included her 1,000th career point.  She also dished out six assists and pulled down six rebounds. Seventeen of her 31 points came in a game-changing third quarter when the Pirates took the lead and never trailed again.  With her six assists against the Blue Demons, Park-Lane broke Seton Hall's single-season assist record.

Seton Hall, 17-11 overall and 12-8 in Big East play, will return to action on March 4 against Butler in the first round of the Big East Championship.

RECAP: Iowa wins share of Big Ten, Missouri upsets Florida and more from Sunday

Sydney Taylor, Massachusetts

Massachusetts won a pair of games last week as junior guard Sydney Taylor averaged 25.5 points per game, while also averaging 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.

UMass scored a 66-57 victory over VCU on Feb. 23 and a 74-62 win at Saint Louis on Feb. 26. Taylor led both efforts, shooting 46.9% from the field (15-of-32), 35.0% three-point field goal percentage (7-of-20), while connecting on 14-of-17 from the free throw line.

Against VCU, the Huntington Station, N.Y., native tallied a game-high 23 points, shooting 7-for-16 (.438) from the field, including three 3-point field goals, while hitting all six of her shots from the charity stripe.

On the road at Saint Louis, Taylor put up a game best 28 points, making eight of her 16 attempts from the field, four 3-point field goals and knocked down a career-high eight free throws out of her career best 11 attempts (.727). She came down with three boards on the night, and had two assists and one steal.

The junior sits sixth in the Atlantic-10 Conference in scoring at 15.9 points per game and fourth in total points with 460, while also ranking second with 2.65 3-point field goals made per game. Nationally, Taylor is 12th in three-point field goals attempted (212) and is tied for 24th in three-point field goals made (72).

Taylor and the Minutewomen, 23-6 overall and 11-4 in conference play, will next gear up for the A-10 Championship in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday, March 2 through Sunday, March 6. UMass earned a double-bye into the Quarterfinal Round.

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