UConn's Geno Auriemma pulled Caitlin Clark aside after the Huskies' win. Here's what he had to say.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma had hardly congratulated his own team on a 92-72 win as they head to a 15th straight Elite Eight when he pointed toward Iowa’s freshman phenom Caitlin Clark Saturday afternoon and motioned for her to come talk to him.

Hyped as a battle between freshman stars - Clark and UConn’s Paige Bueckers - on national TV, the game became a lot more than that. UConn might have won by 20 points, but the game remained close throughout thanks, in large part, to Clark’s 21 points and the attention the Huskies had to give her.

In the leadup to the game Clark had been clear: this game was set to be more than two freshman playing one-on-one. Even Auriemma knew the hype was a lot to handle.

“Well, I think the fact that there was so much hype put on those two kids, part of it was unfair, but it comes with the territory,” Auriemma said after the game.

It’s not unusual for Auriemma to quickly chat up an opposing player after a game or simply wish them well. But putting his arm around Clark and speaking with her as long as he did jumped out as a special, if not interesting, moment. Was the longtime UConn coach congratulating her on an impressive season? Recruiting her? Or something else?

“Yeah, he was pretty much just like, ‘You're crazy good’ whatnot,” Clark said after the game. “Things like that. He's like, ‘it's kind of a shame it had to be so much pressure on you and Paige. I could tell you guys were so antsy in the first half,’ which I think is kind of true. I think we were, kind of could feel that pressure in a way. I took a few poor shots. I think we both kind of calmed down there in the second half.”

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - MARCH 27: Head coach Geno Auriemma of the UConn Huskies speaks with Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes following their 92-72 win in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at the Alamodome on March 27, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - MARCH 27: Head coach Geno Auriemma of the UConn Huskies speaks with Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes following their 92-72 win in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at the Alamodome on March 27, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Carmen Mandato / Getty Images

As for the hype over the two freshmen who had previously played together on a national team, Clark said she still welcomes it.

“Obviously it is a lot of pressure for two freshmen,” she said. “Those are the games we want to play in. Those are the moments we live for. We wouldn't want it to change any other way.

“To have him come up to me and say the things he did, he said, What you've done for Iowa this season really has been something special, you have a bright future. To hear him say that to me really meant something. To take the time to wave me down and talk to me obviously meant a lot and I'm very thankful for that.”

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) passes the ball around UConn guard Paige Bueckers (5) during the first half of a college basketball game in the Sweet Sixteen round of the women's NCAA tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Saturday, March 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) passes the ball around UConn guard Paige Bueckers (5) during the first half of a college basketball game in the Sweet Sixteen round of the women's NCAA tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Saturday, March 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Eric Gay / Associated Press