Louisiana State University is an institution of higher learning that has a rich history in collegiate athletics, and on Sunday, April 2nd, the LSU Tigers Women’s basketball team became national champions as they defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 102-85.
Prior to Sunday’s game, if you viewed LSU’s trophy case, you would have seen a total of 49 national titles in various sports, such as football, baseball, and track. Once the game clock expired in Sunday’s championship game, head coach Kim Mulkey and her 2023 LSU team added number 50 to the collection.
During her college days, Kim Mulkey played point guard for Louisiana Tech from 1980-1984, and her team won two national titles. Fast forward sixteen years later, and Mulkey landed the head coaching job at Baylor.
In 21 seasons as Baylor’s head coach, Mulkey won three national championships in 2005, 2012, and 2019. Despite her success, Mulkey had the desire to leave the University of Baylor because she wanted to go home and end her career in the state where it all began.
Kim Mulkey was introduced as LSU’s new head coach in April 2021. After being formally introduced, Mulkey took a moment to look up at the banners and verbalize her goal for the LSU Women’s basketball team. “See those banners, Final Four, Final Four, Final Four, Final Four. Nowhere on there does it say national champions. That’s what I came here to do.”
In her second season as the LSU head coach, Kim Mulkey led her team to the Final Four where they would face top-seeded Virginia Tech. The Tigers needed a rally, but they were able to comeback to defeat Virginia Tech 79-72, and earn their spot in the championship game.
LSU defeated a top-seed, but National Player of the Year Caitlin Clark and her Iowa Hawkeyes faced the tough task of playing against the number one team in the country, the South Carolina Gamecocks. Behind Clark’s 41 points, Iowa pulled off the upset and defeated South Carolina by the score of 77-73.
The national championship game was set as LSU and Iowa were ready to battle. LSU started the game off committing multiple turnovers as Iowa took a early 7-3 lead. LSU would settle down and despite Caitlin Clark’s 14 points, LSU held a 27-22 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In their semi-final game against South Carolina, Iowa packed the paint and dared South Carolina to shoot from the outside. They attempted to use the same strategy against LSU and got burned as Jasmine Carson hit 5 three-pointers, and at the half LSU held a 59-42 lead.
During halftime, Jasmine Carson’s 21 first half points and the bad officiating by the officiating crew were the main topics of discussion. Due to foul trouble, both stars Caitlin Clark and LSU’s Angel Reese played limited minutes in the second quarter.
At the start of the third, LSU stretched their lead to 21 points, but Iowa went on a 15-2 run to cut the lead to eight. Then LaDazhia Williams, Flau’jae Johnson, and Kateri Poole all contributed to help LSU maintain a 75-64 lead going into the fourth quarter.
With Iowa trying to shoot their way back into the contest, Alexis Morris took over with her midrange jumpshot as she went 6-for-6 in the fourth quarter for a total of 15 points. It was a complete team effort as LSU won their first national championship by the score of 102-85.
Angel “Bayou Barbie” Reese posted her 34th double-double of the season as she tallied 15 points and 10 rebounds in the championship game. Through six tournament games, Reese averaged 21.3 points with 15.2 rebounds, and as a result, she was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
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