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Shooting for Greatness: Exploring the Top Individual Performances in Women's March Madness History

These six stars put up stunning single-game performances in the NCAA tournament.


With March Madness coming to a close, fans are eagerly anticipating the announcement of the National Championship matchup. In the world of college basketball, March is a month filled with triumphs, surprises, and awe-inspiring moments. Today, we celebrate some of the notable individual performances by the women in the NCAA tournament. 


First, we have to pay homage to Lorri Bauman, a revered figure in women's basketball history. The Drake alum dropped 50 points in a single game in 1982, during the first ever Division 1 women’s basketball tournament. Bauman shot 21-for-35 from the field and 8-for-11 from the free throw line in Drake’s West Regional final loss against Maryland. She completed her collegiate career with 3,115 points, the eighth most in D1 women’s history. 42 years and 41 championships later, no one has surpassed Bauman’s individual scoring record. 


Beyond Bauman stands the legendary Sheryl Swoopes, whose unforgettable performance in the NCAA tournament is said to be the best in tournament history. Swoopes dropped 47 points in the 1993 championship game against Ohio State. Her astounding performance led Texas Tech to its first national championship title. Swoopes's run in the tournament was nothing short of amazing – she scored at least 30 points in each round, and her 47-point final remains the highest individual score in Women's Final Four history. Swoopes' game only grew from there. She went on to become a four-time WNBA Champion, three-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, two-time WNBA scoring champ, and three-time Olympic gold medalist. 


Since 2016, the NCAA tournament has only seen four players put up 40 or more points in a single game. Mississippi State’s Morgan William gave the crowd an electrifying performance in the 2017 tournament. After scoring 41 points in an Elite 8 battle against Baylor, William continued her run, leading her team to its first national final appearance. Fast forward five years and Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley delivered another jaw dropping performance, scoring 42 points in the first round against Florida Gulf Coast. She was one of only two players for Tech to score double figures in the loss. 


Last year, the basketball world witnessed an epic showdown between Iowa and Louisville in the Elite 8. Caitlin Clark made history during that matchup, becoming the first player to ever score a 40-point triple-double in a men’s or women’s NCAA tournament. She put up 41 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds to lead the Hawkeyes to their first Final Four. The fire didn’t stop there – she went on to drop another 41-point game in the Hawkeyes’ defeat of No.1 seed South Carolina, leading Iowa to its first championship game. 


Clark has continued her epic run in the 2024 tournament. Iowa met LSU this week for the first time since the 2023 National Championship. Clark delivered another jaw dropping performance, scoring 41 points against the former national champion team. Her deep shots, along with her clutch plays, ultimately secured the win for Hawkeyes, leading them to their second Final Four. 


All eyes were on Stanford’s Kiki Iriafen in the second round of this year’s tournament, where her team faced off against Iowa State. It was an intense game that ended in overtime, with both teams unleashing their stars in a battle to continue their championship journeys. Iriafen's performance was impeccable, as she scored 41 points in the Cardinal’s win. Her shots weren’t the only awe-inspiring moments of the game. She dominated on both ends of the floor, totaling 16 rebounds, four assists, three blocks, and a steal. Her team went on to compete in the Sweet 16 against NC State where, despite the team’s loss, Iriafen collected a double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds. 


As we reflect on these extraordinary individual performances from the women of NCAA basketball, we see that these stars have achieved greatness and inspired future generations. They have blazed their way to the top and influenced all women – not just athletes – to push the boundaries of what's possible. The highest-scoring individual performances in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament serve as reminders of not only records, but the true power of women in sports.

 

Edited by Ella Chang

Social media content created by Daryl Batt

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