Records Shatter as LSU Defeats Iowa in the NCAAW Final


Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese clashed in the NCAAW Championship. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Julia Moss, Staff Writer

This year’s NCAA tournament comes to an emphatic end with the Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers being crowned national champions. LSU defeated the Iowa University Hawkeyes by a score of 102-85. Outside of a champion being crowned, numerous records were broken as we enter a new era of women’s basketball that is reaching numbers both on and off the court that players and fans have never seen before.

Heading into the matchup between the Tigers and Hawkeyes, the story was how Caitlin Clark would continue her historic production streak against a very well-disciplined LSU defense. It’s difficult to imagine how much more momentum Iowa could have had coming into this game having just eliminated the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks just two days prior. However, from the jump LSU proved to be a difficult matchup for the Hawkeyes.

The pace of the first half was largely hot and cold due to intense officiating. There were 12 fouls called in the first quarter and 21 by the end of the first half, leaving several players in foul trouble on both sides. Among those having to play more carefully was Clark, who entered the break with three fouls. Eight other players also had two or more fouls by halftime. Other than officiating, the biggest story of the half was the efficiency of LSU’s Jasmine Carson, who had 21 points on a perfect seven-for-seven shooting from the field.

Entering the second half, LSU seemed to be in the driver’s seat up 59-42, but Iowa made a valiant effort to bring themselves back into the game. Clark began to get hot from behind the arc and started to see the offense from what Iowa fans were used to seeing. However, LSU weathered the storm, stayed composed and responded to Iowa’s run with one of their own. Foul trouble caught up to Iowa as Clark received a questionable technical foul for tossing the ball to the baseline after a play, marking her fourth of the contest. The third quarter ended 75-69.

It was the fourth quarter when things began to unravel for Iowa. With Monika Czinano and Clark each with only one foul left before fouling out, LSU did an outstanding job of exploiting their weaknesses by attacking both players on offense to try to draw their fifth fouls. Czinano drew her fifth at the six-minute mark in the fourth quarter, and had to watch the clock run out on her collegiate career on the bench with her team down 14.

LSU fended off every push of momentum Iowa tried to build, making huge shots with several players, both starters and bench players, truly stepping up on the biggest stage. Head coach Kim Mulkey’s Tigers showed offensive production like we haven’t seen in quite some time, and never in an NCAAW Tournament Championship with their staggering 102 points. The Tigers had 32 points coming off the bench compared to Iowa’s eight.

Another difference maker was rebounded, with Iowa being outrebounded 38-26. Iowa was able to escape South Carolina being heavily outrebounded, but LSU proved that they would capitalize on their physical advantages.

Even in the loss, it shouldn’t be overlooked that Clark still performed at an incredible level. When a player secures 40-point triple-doubles, expectations can become unrealistic, but Clark was still able to score 30 points with eight assists. In doing so, she also broke the record for most points ever scored in a single NCAA tournament. The help around Clark would serve as a difference maker as only she was able to eclipse over 15 points while LSU had four different players surpass that marker.

For LSU, it was a team effort across the board. Angel Reese achieved yet another double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, making her the first player to reach 34 in a single season in women’s collegiate basketball history. LaDazhia Williams came up big with 20 points, Alex Morris had 21 and as mentioned before, the presence off the bench from Carson turned the momentum in a big way for the Tigers.

It can’t be overstated how much of an impact Mulkey has had on this team. Just two years ago, Mulkey took over this Tigers team that was coming off a nine-win season. In the very next year, she brought this team to 26-6, and now in her second season, she’s brought them something even more special: a National Championship.

To say the least, there’s a rivalry brewing between the two teams as the fallout from the result has created drama capturing the media’s attention. As time ran off the clock, Reese ran over to Clark and motioned her hand in the “you can’t see me” hand gesture we saw Clark showcase just one game prior. It’s clear the LSU roster was not a fan of Clark’s actions throughout the season. As Reese said after the game, “Caitlin Clark is a hell of a player but I don’t take disrespect lightly. She disrespected Alexis and I wanted to pick her pocket. But I had a moment at the end of her game. I was in my bag, I was in my moment.”

What’s most exciting about the championship is that the future remains bright for both LSU and Iowa. LSU’s leader Reese is only a sophomore and Flau’jae Johnson is a freshman. While Iowa will be saying goodbye to their reliable post presence Czinano, the Iowa Hawkeye fan base can look forward to at least one more year of Clark.

This year’s NCAA Tournament finale brought in just under 10 million viewers, an all-time record for any NCAAW basketball game in the history of the game. That statistic along with the 103% viewer increase from just last year proves women’s sports has momentum never seen before. The future of collegiate women’s basketball has all signs pointing up, and as media attention towards the sport continues to increase, so will the momentum behind the sport. The LSU Tigers cap off an incredible season with a national championship, and considering the talent they’re bringing back next year, this won’t be the last time we are talking about this team in the same breath as championship contenders.