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FutureStarrLSU Tigers Vs Iowa Hawkeyes 2023 Women's National Championship
The 2023 Women's National Championship matchup between LSU Tigers and Iowa Hawkeyes was an electrifying and entertaining battle. Ultimately, LSU emerged victorious 102-85.
LSU earned its first national championship in program history and the fourth for coach Kim Mulkey. Caitlin Clark, the National Player of the Year, led all scorers with 30 points.
Angel Reese, a Baton Rouge native, has found her place in college basketball and is on track to make history. After averaging double-doubles for Maryland last season, Reese transferred to LSU and has quickly established herself as one of the best players in America. As part of LSU's national championship run, Reese is also considered a top contender for player of the year in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
Reese helped propel LSU Tigers to their first national title with a 15-point, 10-rebound performance that earned her the title of Most Outstanding Player on Sunday. She made several memorable plays throughout the game, such as her block against Arkansas on January 19 and an incredible TikTok move with her feet separated from her sneakers against Florida.
Reese, a 2023 unanimous first-team All-American and LSU first-team All-American, has had an exemplary freshman season; setting both an SEC record for consecutive double-doubles and setting both an LSU and SEC women's basketball rebounding record with 28 rebounds against Texas A&M on Jan. 5, 2023.
On Sunday, Reese did her part to bring home the national title by flashing John Cena's iconic "you can't see me" hand gesture at Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark as the horn sounded and pointing her ring finger during celebration. This moment caught the attention of sports journalists worldwide and even prompted tweets from basketball hall of famer Shaquille O'Neal and sports radio host Mike Olbermann.
Reese's own social media responses, along with the criticism directed at her, reflect a longstanding pattern of racism and misogyny in sports - particularly when it comes to Black athletes. This standard often leads to frustration and an unhelpful standard that reduces Black athletes to lesser positions while depriving them of opportunities for success and respect in the community.
Many commenters on social media labeled Reese's reaction "taunting." This sentiment was also echoed by NBC's Keith Olbermann and ESPN's Bob Portnoy, both of whom criticized Reese for her actions.
However, a more nuanced perspective of the situation paints an even more complex picture. While many online may have perceived Cena's hand motion as taunting her team's win and celebrating Clark, who had also been doing the same gesture throughout the tournament, Reese said she simply meant to celebrate their triumph and honor Clark by using it for celebration purposes.
Alexis Morris, a Beaumont native, played an integral role in LSU's historic national championship victory on Sunday. Her heroics helped the Tigers hold off an invincible Iowa Hawkeyes squad to earn a 102-85 victory in the NCAA National Championship game.
Morris scored 21 points to lead Auburn to their first title in program history and defeat a top-ranked team to cap off an incredible season. A two-time SEC All-Star, Morris tied her career high with nine assists while playing tough defense on Iowa's Caitlin Clark throughout the entire game.
Her leadership was instrumental as LSU built a 17-point lead at halftime and held off Iowa's second-half surge to claim their first national title. Her performance earned her recognition as one of the NCAA's All-Tournament Team members alongside Angel Reese and LaDazhia Williams.
After a slow start, the Tigers came alive in the second quarter and took control of the game with 27-22 lead. Kateri Poole and Reese combined for 5-of-6 field goals while Morris hit 3-of-4 shots as part of an impressive comeback effort.
At 2:49 left in the third quarter, LSU's lead had grown to double digits. Reese converted two of her missed shots into putback baskets and Morris finished as LSU's most efficient player with all seven of her points coming from layups or free throws.
Morris was able to stay composed despite foul trouble as the Tigers extended their lead. She used her mid-range game to generate offense during crucial possessions in the fourth quarter.
Morris' shooting percentages were impressive, but her defensive effort was the real standout of her performance. Her aggressiveness on the defensive end kept Clark from scoring in one-on-one situations and denied her multiple layup attempts.
Mulkey had high hopes for her senior guard, who has accomplished much in her short college basketball career. It hasn't been an easy journey to where she is today, but Morris has worked hard to remain positive and focused on the task at hand.
Morris was removed from Baylor before the 2017-18 season for violating school regulations, and she embarked on an exciting journey of her own, traveling around America before rejoining Mulkey at LSU. Morris says her return to Mulkey's side has been an eye-opening experience and she feels blessed to play under such a renowned coach.
As the confetti fell around her in Dallas, former Lakewood Ranch standout LaDaija Williams was savoring every moment. As the first player on either team to be announced during pregame ceremonies with a shoutout to her hometown of Bradenton, Williams was surrounded by those who had followed her career since high school days. It was an unforgettable moment for her.
The 6-foot-4 forward had plenty of athletic gifts at her disposal, but she needed to hone her basketball IQ and develop more post moves before becoming the star player for an elite basketball team. In her senior season with LSU, however, she has taken those talents and unlocked their potential.
Williams has started all 34 games this year, averaging 9.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest.
Her offensive tools have improved to something she hadn't had in a long time, as her basketball IQ and more refined footwork lead to easy baskets. She can pull up and hit a jump shot, take a step, spin and drive for an easy layup or make some great passes to her teammates for easy baskets.
She has become one of the best defenders in the country, an integral part of LSU's defensive scheme. In the National Championship game against Iowa, she helped defend Monika Czinano (averaging 17.2 points per game), holding her to 13 points and three rebounds over 37 minutes.
Fans who have followed her career since high school in Lakewood Ranch, know that Williams has been an underrated star and essential part of LSU's success. She's a vital cog in Coach Kim Mulkey's winning machine as well as an asset to the WNBA draft pool. Williams is likely to become an All-American at her next stop and may even receive scholarship offers from one of the league teams.
On Sunday in Dallas, the LSU Tigers made history by defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes 102-85 to capture their first NCAA women's basketball championship ever. Coach Kim Mulkey now holds four national titles for her program which finished 9-13 during her second season at the helm.
The Tigers raced out to an early 17-point lead and never looked back. Jasmine Carson hit 7 of 7 field goals and five of her six 3-pointers in the opening half, giving them a commanding 59-42 advantage at halftime.
Iowa battled back in the second quarter and cut their deficit to 65-57, but foul trouble slow down their momentum once more. Clark broke Sheryl Swoopes' tournament record with her seventh 3-pointer to spark a 15-2 run that reduced Iowa's lead to 69-60.
But the Tigers kept on going, scoring one clutch basket after another. Guard Alexis Morris came up big with a huge jumper early in the final frame to secure a commanding lead that they held onto throughout.
Following a lackluster defensive quarter by the Hawkeyes, Thomas took over for the remainder of the game and scored 11 points and handed out eight assists to seal it for Iowa. She also set her career high with nine rebounds.
She was an offensive force and key to her team's victory in Dallas on Sunday. She scored a game-high 22 points and set an NCAA record with the most three-pointers made in one tournament - an accomplishment she is very proud of.
Thomas, a graduate student from CCC Polkowice in Poland, joined LSU where she led her team with an impressive 3.4 assist per game average. As a third-team All-American for the Tigers, her performance in the title game further cemented that status.
The Tigers used a record-breaking first half to cruise past Iowa and win their first NCAA title ever, surpassing Texas' previous high of 97 points against Southern California back in 1986. With this 102-85 victory, Michigan State claimed its first ever women's national championship title!