IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Caitlin Clark has been in the situation before. In games, in practice, at home, in her imagination.
But Sunday's game-winning 3-pointer that ended an emotional day with a victory for Clark's Iowa Hawkeyes? That was the best yet.
"Those are the situations I would put myself in with my two brothers out in the driveway," Clark said of the buzzer-beating shot that knocked off the No. 2 Indiana Hoosiers 86-85 at sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena. "That's still what I do when I come into the gym and shoot by myself. Those are the situations you dream of. I'm lucky enough to be able to do it for this team, in front of 15,000 people who want to come and scream about it.
"I've hit a few buzzer-beaters, but nothing to that extreme with the circumstances what they were for us. That's definitely No. 1."
Clark finished with 34 points, nine assists and nine rebounds, close to what would have been her 10th triple-double as a Hawkeye.
In a back-and-forth tussle with the Hoosiers, who already had secured the program's first Big Ten regular-season title in 40 years, the Hawkeyes' victory did multiple things. It gave them the No. 2 seed behind Indiana in this week's Big Ten tournament at Target Center in Minneapolis. It avenged Iowa's loss at Indiana on Feb. 9. It helped the Hawkeyes bounce back from a deflating 28-point loss at the Maryland Terrapins on Tuesday. It provided a fantastic finish for ESPN's "College GameDay" in Iowa City.
And it further cemented the legend of Clark, the Iowa native known for "shooting from the logo," among her many talents. She led Division I women's basketball in points per game and assists per game last season, and she currently is in the top three in scoring average and is leading in assists average. She already had made a strong case for national player of the year, and Sunday's heroics added to that.
Clark scored for Iowa at the end of each quarter: on a layup to close the first quarter, a jump shot just before halftime, free throws to end the third and the game-winning 3. That last shot was set up on a play that Hawkeyes coach Lisa Bluder said she got from watching the WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces over the summer.
"You couldn't ask for anything better," said Clark, who is now averaging 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 8.2 assists. "I want to give a lot of credit to Indiana -- to come in here and play as well as they did. They have so much balance.
"You know I'm all about growing the women's game, and I'm glad I gave little girls something they can probably scream about at the top of their lungs. When I was younger, I was doing the exact same thing watching on TV."
Clark has been a draw for fans both here at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which was sold out for Sunday's game weeks ahead of time, and on the road.
The Hoosiers also sold out their regular-season finale at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Feb. 19, and it's been a magical season for Indiana, which suffered just its second loss. The other defeat was at the Michigan State Spartans on Dec. 29, when Indiana starting guard Grace Berger was still out with a knee injury.
In professional sports, Sunday's game would have been kind of a wash for a team in Indiana's situation, as it does not have an impact on their postseason position. The Hoosiers already had the Big Ten regular-season championship and No. 1 seed in the league tournament wrapped up, and they're still clearly the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA tournament behind the defending national champion South Carolina Gamecocks.
Even so, the Hoosiers really wanted this victory, and it looked like they probably had it after Indiana forward Mackenzie Holmes' two free throws with 1.5 seconds left. But that was enough time for Clark to work her own magic.
"I've got a sad group in the locker room right now," Indiana coach Teri Moren said. "I'm disappointed. I know they're disappointed. But we'll do what we always do. Either we feel good or we feel bad for 24 hours, and then we get back to work."
On Friday in Minneapolis, Indiana will face the Nebraska-Michigan State winner, while Iowa meets the winner of Wisconsin-Purdue. Maryland is the No. 3 seed, and the Ohio State Buckeyes are No. 4. Indiana, 26-2, is seeking the program's second Big Ten tournament title and Iowa its fifth.
Last year, the Hawkeyes beat the Hoosiers in the tournament final. If they meet again for that title this year, it will be hard for that game to be any more dramatic than Sunday's was. It was senior day for Iowa, which will say goodbye to Monika Czinano and McKenna Warnock after this season. On Sunday, they started their 83rd game with Clark, Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall -- the most for any women's starting five in the past 20 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
The Hawkeyes, who were projected as a No. 3 seed in Thursday's NCAA top-16 seeding reveal, likely moved up a seed line with the victory. They are now 23-6 overall, and it was their second win over a No. 2-ranked team this season; they beat Ohio State when the Buckeyes were No. 2 on Jan. 23. Iowa will be back at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the early rounds of the NCAA tournament.
But Sunday was the perfect ending for this particular chapter for Iowa.
Iowa's 86 points were the most Indiana has allowed this season, as were the Hawkeyes' 11 3-pointers. Clark scored or assisted on 56 of Iowa's points. She had two turnovers as compared to eight when the Hawkeyes lost at Indiana. And even though she missed the five 3-point attempts that preceded the game winner, she didn't hesitate in taking that shot.
"I know this team is going to turn to me in those type of situations," Clark said. "It's not anything I shy away from. If you want to be one of the best players on the best teams, those are the situations you've got to rise to. Trust me, I've been in plenty that haven't gone my way too.
"That's the game of basketball: How are you going to respond? I'm lucky enough that my coach and my teammates have the confidence in me."