Iowa, Caitlin Clark advance to Final Four knocking out defending champ LSU

Iowa has punched its ticket to the Final Four on Monday, extending all-star shooter Caitlin Clark’s college basketball career at least one more game and dashing LSU’s hopes for a repeat championship. 

The Hawkeyes beat the Tigers 94-87 in Albany, New York, and now advance to Cleveland, where they’ll play the winner of the USC Trojans and Connecticut Huskies game.

Iowa vs. LSU

This year’s matchup between Clark and LSU’s Angel Reese comes earlier in the tournament than last year, when they faced off for the national championship.

LSU won that one, and Clark has had her eye on the title ever since in her record-breaking senior year. She has said she plans to enter the WNBA draft.

As the Elite Eight game kicked off at MVP Arena, Iowa was off to an early lead, but Reese and LSU responded and pulled ahead going into the second quarter.

Reese was pulled in the second quarter with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Though she was seen limping court-side, Reese quickly returned to the game with a little over 6 minutes remaining.

LSU led for much of the second quarter, but the first half ended level at 45-45. Clark twice made her way through the lane to score and assist to give the Hawkeyes the lead, but Flau’jae Johnson ran up the other end and tied the game by spinning away from her defender and hooking in the basket.

LSU forward Angel Reese is double teamed by Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, 22, and forward Hannah Stuelke during the first quarter Monday, April 1, 2024, in Albany, N.Y.
LSU forward Angel Reese is double-teamed by Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, 22, and forward Hannah Stuelke during the first quarter. Mary Altaffer / AP

Clark and Reese ended the first half with 19 and 13 points, respectively, both finishing that half as their teams’ leading scorers. Reese, however, finished the half with eight rebounds to Clark’s one, though the latter had five assists to Reese’s three.

The third quarter began with a familiar sight: Clark scoring a three-pointer from deep to give Iowa the early lead. Meanwhile, Reese entered the third quarter with a new pair of shoes, possibly to help alleviate the ankle pain.

It was almost impossible for LSU to guard Clark, who almost couldn’t stop scoring from deep and ended the third quarter with four three-pointers as the Hawkeyes walked away with a 69-58 lead.

Another three-pointer opened the fourth quarter, but this time it was LSU freshman Mikaylah Williams cutting the deficit for her team.

With 1:45 remaining in the game, Reese fouled out after being called for a charge. Down their talisman, the Tigers fell to the Hawkeyes by 7 points.

Clark finished the game with 41 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds.

She tied a women’s NCAA Tournament record hitting by nine 3-pointers, many from well beyond the arc. She quickly broke a tie with Diana Taurasi for career 3-pointers in the March Madness with her first one.

When she hit her seventh 3, Clark passed Oklahoma’s Taylor Robertson for the most in a career among NCAA Division I players. Clark’s ninth gave her 540.

She was 9 of 20 from distance when she tied the record.

USC vs. UConn

Iowa will next play either the USC Trojans or the Connecticut Huskies, who were playing in Portland, Oregon, on Monday night.

The No. 3-seed Huskies and Paige Bueckers are narrowly expected to claim the last spot in the Final Four, with Action Network putting them as three-point favorites over No. 1 seed USC with freshman guard Juju Watkins.

Undefeated No. 1 seed South Carolina and No. 3 seed North Carolina State already claimed their tickets to the semifinal round Sunday, and they will face off Friday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.

The winners of each Final Four matchup will meet in Cleveland on Sunday for the women’s NCAA championship game.

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