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With 20.2 seconds remaining in Sunday's national championship game, Caitlin Clark walked off the floor for the final time in an Iowa jersey. When the final buzzer sounded a short time later, it simultaneously pronounced South Carolina as champions and signaled the end of Clark's historic collegiate career. 

Clark departs as the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I history, men or women, with 3,951 points. She also boasts the women's single-season scoring record (1,234 points), and has more career points in the NCAA Tournament (392) than any other woman. Furthermore, she's one of 10 women with multiple Naismith Player of the Year awards. 

There was much debate throughout the tournament, and particularly over Final Four weekend, about whether Clark needed a championship to join the GOAT conversation for women's college basketball. The general consensus was yes, and Clark and the Hawkeyes fell short again in Cleveland. 

But even without a title, there's no question Clark has taken the women's game to a new level. Following Sunday's trophy presentation, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley took the microphone to thank Clark for her contributions to the sport -- a gesture that went far beyond the usual compliments for the losing team. 

"I want to personally thank Caitlin Clark for lifting up our sport," Staley said. "She carried a heavy load for our sport and it's not going to stop here on the collegiate tour. When she's the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft she's going to lift that league up as well. So Caitlin Clark, if you're out there, you are one of the GOATs of our game and we appreciate you."

Clark is not solely responsible for the surge of interest in women's basketball around the country, but her accomplishments, unique skillset and electric style of play made her an entry point for millions of fans. 

Earlier this season, the Hawkeyes played an exhibition game against DePaul at Kinnick Stadium in front of 55,646 fans. It was the first women's basketball game to be played outside in a football stadium and set the NCAA single-game attendance record for women's basketball. 

Every single Iowa home game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena sold out this season, and when Clark and the Hawkeyes went on the road, the crowds followed. All told, 30 of their 32 regular-season games were sell-outs or set an attendance record, per the school's athletic department

The highly-anticipated rematch between Iowa and LSU in the Elite Eight drew 12.3 million viewers, setting a new mark for the most-watched women's college basketball game ever. A few days later, Iowa's win over UConn in the Final Four broke that record with 14.2 million people tuning in. The latter was ESPN's most-watched basketball game ever and the second-highest non-football broadcast in the company's history. When the ratings come in for Sunday's title game, they may be even higher still. 

Clark never did win a national championship, but you could make a strong case that carrying Iowa to back-to-back Final Fours is just as impressive, if not more so. That discussion, and where she ranks among college basketball's all-time greats, will continue on for years. There will never be a consensus answer, and Clark isn't interested in weighing in herself. 

"I don't want my legacy to be, 'Oh, Caitlin won X amount of games,' or 'Caitlin scored X amount of points,'" Clark said Saturday, prior to the championship game. "I hope it's what I was able to do for the game of women's basketball. I hope it is the young boys and young girls that are inspired to play this sport or dream to do whatever they want to do in their lives."

On that front, her place in the game's history is secure.