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Caitlin Clark effect continues with first sellout in Northwestern women’s basketball history

Caitlin Clark effect continues with first sellout in Northwestern women’s basketball history
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Some fans wait in line for hours to get into sold-out Welsh-Ryan Arena first

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EVANSTON, Ill. — Iowa women’s basketball fans have consistently made their presence known at away games this season, regardless of the ticket price or the distance necessary to travel.

Wednesday night at Northwestern’s Welsh-Ryan Arena was no different. Ticket prices soared, little girls carried their homemade signs and dedicated Caitlin Clark fans traveled miles to see the Iowa star tally 35 points and 10 assists in the third-ranked Hawkeyes’ 110-74 win over the Wildcats.

A family from Oshkosh, Wis., allowed their children to skip school to watch Clark for the first time. The Bellins woke up early to make the trip and became the first in line at 10 a.m. with their blankets and foldable chairs.

By 2:30, more Hawkeye fans joined them, making themselves at home in line with lunch and more blankets. A mother and daughter bragged about being 11th in a line that eventually stretched a couple hundred fans long.



Madisyn Bellin holds up her Caitlin Clark sign outside Welsh-Ryan Arena before Iowa’s game against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. (Annabelle Del Bosque)

One Iowa alum from Evanston, Erin Corrado, said she had seen Clark a couple years ago but bought Northwestern season tickets specifically for this game. She and her husband Joe waited on the corner of Isabella Street, about two blocks from the Welsh-Ryan Arena entrance. The line wrapped around Northwestern’s Trienens Performance Center.

Erin and Joe brought their teenage, basketball-playing daughters, who decided to sit with their friends in the general admission section, which left two extra tickets for the parents to give away. They offered the tickets to one of their friends and her daughter, who saw Clark and the Hawkeyes in person for the first time Wednesday night.

Iowa fans dressed in their signature black-and-gold colors and young girls in Clark’s jersey screamed in excitement when the line started to move but it never seemed to decrease in length.


Jaelynn Hawkins and Madelyn Patter hold up their Caitlin Clark outside Welsh-Ryan Arena before Iowa’s game against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. (Annabelle Del Bosque)

Jaelynn Hawkins and Madelyn Patter hold up their Caitlin Clark outside Welsh-Ryan Arena before Iowa’s game against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. (Annabelle Del Bosque)

Master Sgt. Jamie Morris, 42, did not have to travel far to see his first women’s basketball game and bring his daughter Margot, 7, to hers. But the Highland Park, Ill., resident said he paid more than $200 for each general admission ticket and offered one reason.

“It’s important,” he said.

Though Margot was a little uncertain before the game — “She asked if the game was going to be outside,” her dad said — the active duty, 20-year veteran was not.

“She has to have women to look up to,” Morris said. “There are enough male role models.”

It was the first sellout game in Welsh-Ryan Arena for Northwestern women’s basketball with an announced attendance of 7,039.

“Hopefully we can have the crowd say they saw a great game and saw great players on both teams,” Northwestern Coach Joe McKeown. “That will be the goal.”


University of Iowa alum Phuong Le and her three children hold up Iowa women’s basketball signs outside Welsh-Ryan Arena before Iowa’s game against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. (Annabelle Del Bosque)
University of Iowa alum Phuong Le and her three children hold up Iowa women’s basketball signs outside Welsh-Ryan Arena before Iowa’s game against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. (Annabelle Del Bosque)

Clark’s fans extend to male fans of all ages who populated Welsh-Ryan, including a trio of 9-year-old boys from Glen Ellyn, Ill., who wore homemade T-shirts. They don’t mind defending their choice of hoops hero to their youth basketball teammates.

“They’ll say, ‘She’s a girl. Girls aren’t as good in sports,’” said Henry Arnswald. “And I’ll say ‘She’s actually better than you.’”

Even her opponents expressed admiration for what Clark has done for the game.

“The spotlight she has put on this sport is amazing,” Northwestern senior captain Jasmine McWilliams said. “Going to the Elite Eight, Final Four, all that last year was first of all great for the Big Ten and showcasing how great our teams are here, but also just showing how great women’s basketball is.

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“And the fact that she’s selling out all these stadiums everywhere she goes is amazing.”





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