Approximately 9.9 million viewers tuned in to watch the LSU vs. Iowa national championship game that featured Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark, but at a crucial point of the contest, LSU guard Jasmine Carson played the role of the unsung hero.
If you go back and research the history of championship games in all sports, the primary focus is always on the premier stars for both teams. You will also notice that when a team has an unexpected contribution from an unsung hero, that team normally ends up victorious.
Through the LSU Tigers previous five tournament games, Jasmine Carson posted a total of 11 points which computes to an average of 2.2 points per contest. With two minutes left to go in the opening quarter, Carson checked into the national championship game.
Her initial touch of the basketball was on the defensive end when she collected her first rebound. After making the outlet pass, Carson proceeded to run down the court. Once she crossed the half-court line, Alexis Morris passed the ball back to Jasmine Carson.
Carson attempted to drive to the basket, but she was fouled by the Iowa defender. She went to the foul line, calmly knocked down both free throws, and gave LSU a four-point lead. As LSU ran down the court to play defense, a disastrous series of plays would occur.
While defending in the post, Angel Reese went for the steal and was called for her second foul with 58.8 seconds left to go in the first quarter. Reese took a seat on the bench, and six seconds later, Kateri Poole committed her second foul of the game.
With two starters on the bench due to foul trouble, LSU needed someone to step up and rise to the occasion. Jasmine Carson was ready to provide the spark that her team needed. She closed out the first quarter by hitting a three-point shot and giving LSU a 27-22 lead.
The second quarter was filled with intense back-and-forth action. With LSU clinging to a one-point lead, Jasmine Carson made her second three-point shot to stretch the lead to 36-32. As they ran down the court to attempt to stop Iowa’s offense, point guard Alexis Morris picked up her second foul.
LSU was in a dangerous situation as three of their five starting players were on the bench for the remainder of the half. With Angel Reese, Kateri Poole, and Alexis Morris all on the bench for the last 6 minutes and 36 seconds, LSU fans were concerned in regards to how their team was going to keep up with the Iowa Hawkeyes high-powered offense.
LaDazhia Williams, Flau’jae Johnson, and Last-Tear Poa all made significant contributions to maintain the lead, but Jasmine Carson was the star of the second quarter. After making a two-point shot, a few possessions later, Carson knocked down back-to-back 3’s.
She would go on to make another two-point shot, and as the clock was about to expire to end the half, Jasmine Carson banked a long three off the glass to give LSU a 59-42 halftime lead.
Angel Reese was the first LSU player to greet Carson and celebrate her perfect performance.
Carson didn’t miss in the first half as she hit 5 three-point shots and scored a total of 21 points. At the halfway point of the national championship game, the LSU Tigers had a comfortable 17-point lead.
In the second half, LSU started the third quarter by bumping their lead up to 21-points, but the sharp-shooting Iowa squad went on a 15-2 run to cut into the lead. However, LSU managed to go on a run of their own, an in the end, Louisiana State University captured their first national championship as they defeated Iowa by the final score of 102-85.
During a recent interview, Jasmine Carson described the feeling she had in the second quarter. “I was really in the moment. It was just like I wasn’t keeping track of how many points I had, how many 3’s I had, I was just living in the moment, and every shot that I knocked down, I could just feel all the triumphs I had to overcome, to be in that particular moment.”
Prior to LSU’s clash with Iowa, none of the analysts mentioned Jasmine Carson’s name in regards to the impact she would have on the championship game. Now that the Tigers have collected their first national title, Jasmine Carson’s name will go down in history as LSU’s 2023 national championship team’s unsung hero.
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