Caitlin Clark’s magical career at Iowa has come to a close. Unfortunately, that historic and dominant scoring run for the Hawkeyes ends without a national championship ring.

On Sunday, Clark led Iowa into a national title game for a second straight season and a rematch of last year’s Final Four game against South Carolina. After spoiling a perfect season by the Gamecocks a season ago, it was South Carolina who delivered an undefeated season in revenge of the team’s only loss at the hands of Clark a year ago.

When the final buzzer sounded, Clark walked off the court with 30 more points in a record-breaking career to lead all scorers. Iowa hung with South Carolina deep into the 4th quarter, but the depth of the Gamecocks proved to be too much.

Here are the key takeaways from Iowa’s 87-75 defeat and the end of Clark’s dynamic playing career at Iowa:

Caitlin Clark remains electric til the end

Iowa came out swinging to start the first half behind an electric start from Clark. She delivered 18 points to open the game, setting a new championship game for points in a quarter.

The opening period included Clark shooting 3-for-4 from 3-point range, including another of her patented logo 3’s:

In the process, Clark also toppled Chamique Holdsclaw’s career record for points in an NCAA Tournament by eclipsing 480. Unfortunately, Clark and the Hawkeyes were unable to hold the 27-20 lead.

Clark finished the game 10-for-28 from the field and 5-for-13 from deep as South Carolina was able to dedicate a defender to pick Clark up at full court. With plenty of depth, the Gamecocks had plenty of firepower to throw at Iowa throughout the rest of the game.

Depth of Gamecocks dominates

Heading into the game, it was clear Iowa would need to rely on its starting group to carry the Hawkeyes. It was quickly apparent after halftime that group was starting to run out of steam against fresh legs for the Gamecocks.

Dawn Staley dipped into her bench time and time again with 9 players playing 18+ minutes and only 2 players reaching 30+ minutes against Iowa. On the flip side, the Hawkeyes had a trio play 40 minutes and all 5 starters were on the court for 27+ minutes.

The production was evident from that second group with Tessa Johnson leading South Carolina with 19 points off the bench. As a group, the Gamecocks outscored Iowa’s bench 37-0 in a truly defining performance for the program.

That’s the kind of group you need to pull off perfection, and South Carolina used that depth to stifle Iowa in the second half.

Kamilla Cardoso too much inside

If bench points were the first defining factor on Sunday, the other one relates to points in the paint. South Carolina once again dominated in that area with a +16 margin in the paint, and Kamilla Cardoso was the big reason why.

She delivered a massive double-double with 15 points, 17 rebounds and 3 blocks while dominating the interior. Cardoso had 7 offensive rebounds on her own, matching Iowa’s team total for offensive boards.

At the end of the day, Iowa had a chance to topple a team that will go down in history as the rare perfect season with a national championship. That doesn’t take away from the magnificence of Clark, but it will be a tough pill to swallow that she embarks on her WNBA career without a ring.