A relentless purple wave came crashing down on Iowa women’s basketball’s magical run, punishing the Hawkeyes over and over for even the slightest defensive breakdown.
When the LSU tide temporarily subsided, the Hawkeyes had a small window to make a break — although it would require a flawless flow of breaks without any more turbulence. On this day, even owning the sport’s most exhilarating player wasn’t enough to conquer this tough task.
Stuck in a 17-point halftime hole that ballooned past 20 early in the third quarter, Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes tried to muster a rally for the ages on the season’s grandest stage. They’ll have to begrudgingly settle for a respectable second-half effort.
The Tigers, who are in just year two of the Kim Mulkey era, were pretty good, too. LSU won the rebounding battles 36-26, turning 14 offensive boards into 14 second-chance points. They also tied a season high by hitting 11 three-pointers, including eight of their first 11 attempts and shot 54% from the field, leading for more than 34 minutes.
LSU built as much as a 21-point lead in the third quarter, and Iowa didn’t get closer than seven. Meanwhile, Monika Czinano, Iowa’s inside threat, fouled out with 6:25 to play.
Reese was also in foul trouble early for LSU, but finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, her 34th double-double. The All-American recorded double-doubles in all but two games this season. Alexis Morris scored 21, LaDazhia Williams had 20 points and Flau’jae Johnson chipped in 10.
The Tigers’ first half barrage was sparked by Jasmine Carson, who came off the bench to score 21 points for LSU in the opening half, including a perfect five of five on three-pointers. Carson finished with 22 points to lead the Tigers.
LSU’s 102 total points also set a new record for most points scored by a team in a women’s championship game.
Iowa star Caitlin Clark led all scorers with 30 points in the game, setting a new record for most points scored in a women’s tournament in the process with 191. The 2023 national player of the year broke the previous women’s record of 177 points set by Sheryl Swoopes in 1993 playing for Texas Tech. Swoopes set the record playing in fives games compared to Clark’s six game total.
A sellout crowd of 19,482 was in attendance to cap off a tournament record of over 350,000 throughout March Madness.
By the end, Mulkey crouched in her signature sideline position and was moved to tears looking out at the crowd decked in purple and gold. Mulkey takes her fourth title as a coach becoming the first woman to coach multiple programs to a national title.
Jasmine Carson scored 22 points, Alexis Morris added 21 and Angel Reese had 15 points and 10 rebounds for LSU (34-2). “It’s no one-man show around here. When I go down, the next man is up,” said Reese, who was honored as the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. “Every single time, every time I go out or Alexis (Morris) goes out, everybody always comes to step up.” Trailing by 21 points early in the third quarter, Iowa started hitting from the outside to go on a 15-2 run. It made four 3-pointers and converted a three-point play to get within 65-57. The Hawkeyes (31-7) trailed 73-64 with 1:03 left in the third quarter when Clark was called for a technical foul. She swatted the ball away on the floor after a foul call against a teammate. That counted as a personal foul for her, her fourth of the game. “I thought they called it very, very tight,” Clark said. “Hit with a technical foul for throwing the ball under the basket — sometimes that’s how things go.” Clark played the entire fourth quarter with four fouls but couldn’t get the Hawkeyes much closer.
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