Clark carries Iowa past Reese, LSU to Final Four

Clark carries Iowa past Reese, LSU to Final Four post thumbnail image

In a sport billed because the battle between faculty basketball’s largest stars, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark shined the brightest.

Clark scored 41 factors to raise the top-seeded Hawkeyes previous defending champion LSU 94-87 in a rematch of the 2023 NCAA Match championship sport. Iowa (33-4) advances to the Ultimate 4 for the second straight yr and features a measure of revenge in opposition to the workforce that knocked out the Hawkeyes in final yr’s title matchup.

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For the second consecutive yr, Clark notched 40-plus factors to seal an Elite Eight victory for the Hawkeyes. Final yr, she scored 41 to beat Louisville. This yr, she notched the identical complete. As well as, Clark tied the NCAA Match report with 9 3-pointers and broke open a 45-45 halftime rating with 4 3-pointers within the third quarter.

“This one most likely feels just a little higher with it being my senior yr,” Clark instructed ESPN’s Holly Rowe after the sport.

Clark’s theatrics overshadowed a superb and tenacious efficiency by LSU celebrity Angel Reese, who scored 17 factors and grabbed 20 rebounds earlier than fouling out late within the fourth quarter. Flau’jae Johnson added 23 factors to guide the Tigers (31-6).

Within the victory, Clark broke the NCAA ladies’s all-time report for 3-pointers made (540) in a profession, passing Oklahoma’s Taylor Robertson (537). It was the twentieth sport that Clark had 30-plus factors and 10-plus assists in her profession. Clark additionally has three 40-point double-doubles in an NCAA Match setting (Elite Eight, 2023; nationwide semifinal, 2023; Elite Eight, 2024).

Iowa is looking for its first title and can face the winner of No. 1 USC and No. 3 UConn within the Ultimate 4 on April 5.

What this implies for Iowa

As massive because the Hawkeyes’ nationwide semifinal win was in opposition to South Carolina final yr, this victory was larger. Shedding to LSU within the title sport lingered for a whole yr. It was as painful a second for the postgame taunting because it was for the defeat on the courtroom.

It was the third time within the final 5 years the Hawkeyes and coach Lisa Bluder met a Kim Mulkey-coached workforce with their season at stake. The earlier two outings — in 2019 in opposition to Baylor and final yr in opposition to LSU — changed into robust losses. This time, Iowa pulled out a win.

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Bluder, the winningest coach in Huge Ten historical past, now has her second workforce qualifying for the Ultimate 4, an vital milestone in her legacy. As for Clark’s legacy, she’s solidified a robust argument as the sport’s best participant.

What this implies for LSU

The third-seeded Tigers ran via a gauntlet within the NCAA Match, beginning with a pair of robust video games on their residence flooring. Then in beating UCLA within the Candy 16, LSU appeared to construct momentum towards this high-profile matchup. The primary half went the Tigers’ method in constructing an eight-point lead.

However then Angel Reese suffered an ankle damage that triggered her to depart the sport and altered the sport’s momentum. Reese nonetheless battled for a lot of the sport earlier than fouling out, but it surely was apparent the damage affected her.

It’s tough to repeat as champions, and in a yr with fairly just a few distractions, LSU nonetheless competed at a excessive stage. The largest lingering query remaining is whether or not Reese declares for the WNBA Draft or decides to remain in Baton Rouge. It doesn’t matter what, the Tigers will stay a contender underneath Mulkey.

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(Photograph: Sarah Stier / Getty Photographs)


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