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Is Caitlin Clark the All-Time Leading Scorer in NCAA College Basketball History?

Clark broke "Pistol" Pete Maravich's record with her 3,668th point on March 3, 2024.

Published March 5, 2024

 (David Berding / Getty Images)
Image Via David Berding / Getty Images

On March 3, 2024, in front of a sold-out crowd that included rapper Travis Scott and hall-of-fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, University of Iowa Hawkeyes basketball star Caitlin Clark sunk the most important free throw of her life. It was the 3,668th point of Clark's college career, giving her the all-time scoring record for an NCAA college basketball player (men's or women's). 

Clark's idol, Maya Moore, was there to congratulate her after the game. The NBA's all-time points leader, LeBron James, congratulated Clark on X (formerly known as Twitter). 

Although Clark broke "Pistol" Pete Maravich's NCAA scoring record, there's a player in women's college basketball history she hasn't caught. A Snopes reader emailed us asking about Clark's record compared to a college player from Florence, South Carolina, named Pearl Moore. 

Indeed, the Snopes reader was correct in spotting nuance in Clark's new record that some fans might not know about. Most outlets that wrote about the record contextualized it as the most points in NCAA Division I competition, and they did so because the NCAA is not the only governing body for college athletics.

Francis Marion University's Pearl Moore scored 4,061 points from 1975 to 1979 — before the shot clock, before the three-point line and, most importantly, before the NCAA sponsored a women's basketball championship.

The Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women ran the show instead. In the 1980s, when the NCAA decided to start sponsoring women's sports, the AIAW slowly faded into obscurity and its records — which were never adopted by the NCAA — went with it. Moore, the AIAW's small-school scoring leader, disappeared into the footnotes of the general consciousness, alongside Lynette Woodward and her 3,649 points at the University of Kansas, the most for a large school.

But as Clark began inching closer and closer to the scoring records, Moore gained at least a small amount of public recognition. She was profiled in The Athletic, described as "just a scoring machine."

In an interview with Women's Hoops Network, Moore talked about someone on ESPN's College Gameday holding up their phone, which read "What about Pearl Moore?" before Clark's record-breaking game.

In 2021, Moore was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. According to the Athletic article, "All the greats of the game, especially all of the great men of the NBA there, they all loved her."

So yes, there is a player that Caitlin Clark hasn't beaten quite yet. Given that Clark has announced her entry into the WNBA draft, it seems unlikely that she'll reach Moore's total before the end of the season. But don't let that take away from Clark's accomplishment — just celebrate both players instead.

Sources

Bowman, Emma, and Ayana Archie. "Caitlin Clark Passes Pete Maravich to Set the All-Time NCAA Scoring Record." NPR, 3 Mar. 2024. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2024/03/03/1235690580/caitlin-clark-iowa-ncaa-record-pete-maravich.

Caitlin Clark SURPRISED by Idol Maya Moore! | College GameDay. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy9LZ_32mqs. Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Dochterman, Scott. "Caitlin Clark's Senior Day Another Iowa Milestone as She Passes Pistol Pete's Record." The Athletic, https://theathletic.com/5314253/2024/03/04/caitlin-clark-pete-maravich-record-senior-day/. Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Https://Twitter.Com/KingJames/Status/1764379666767655142? X (Formerly Twitter). Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Oler, Kiri. "Pearl Moore Made Basketball a Labor of Love." The Next, 25 Nov. 2023, https://www.thenexthoops.com/wbl/pearl-moore-basketball-labor-love/.

Peal Moore REACTS To "What About Pearl Moore?" Sign. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mZXbh2zMNk. Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Pearl Moore's Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIwIbuWGi_s. Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Puleo, Mark. "Meet Pearl Moore, the Woman Whose Collegiate Scoring Record Caitlin Clark Might Never Beat." The Athletic, https://theathletic.com/5285666/2024/02/29/pearl-moore-caitlin-clark-collegiate-scoring-record/. Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Sandoval, Ricardo. "Lakers News: LeBron James Congratulates Caitlin Clark For Insane NCAA Record." All Lakers | News, Rumors, Videos, Schedule, Roster, Salaries And More, 3 Mar. 2024, https://www.si.com/nba/lakers/news/lakers-news-lebron-james-congratulates-caitlin-clark-for-insane-ncaa-record-rks97.

Sung, Eric Levenson, Ben Morse, Patrick. "Iowa Hawkeyes Star Caitlin Clark Becomes All-Time Men's and Women's NCAA Basketball Leading Scorer." CNN, 3 Mar. 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/03/sport/caitlin-clark-record-ncaa-basketball-scorer-spt/index.html.

"WNBA Teams See Increase in Ticket Sales after Caitlin Clark Announces Plans to Enter Draft." AP News, 2 Mar. 2024, https://apnews.com/article/caitlin-clark-wnba-indiana-fever-tickets-843171ca69ffa6972f856ff80bf32628.

Jack Izzo is a Chicago-based journalist and two-time "Jeopardy!" alumnus.

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