Lowa Defeats LSU Rematch Behind Caitlin Clark’s Leadership to Go to the Final Four

Only one player from the previous season advanced to the Final Four in a competition that lived up to the expectations since it was a rematch of the 2023 women’s NCAA tournament championship game. And that’s Caitlin Clark, the biggest star in college basketball this year.

Clark had another incredible Elite Eight effort, this time leading her No. 1 seed Iowa Hawkeyes to a 94-87 triumph over LSU, the No. 3 seed in the Albany 2 Regional and the reigning national champion.

In his record-breaking senior season, Clark broke even more records with his 41 points, 12 assists, and 7 rebounds. She received the title of Most Outstanding Player for the region.

The most important thing to Clark, though, is having another opportunity to win a national championship—something Iowa was robbed of in their loss to LSU last season, 102-85. In the national semifinals on Friday, Iowa’s Clark will take on UConn, the victor of the Portland 3 Regional.

After the win, Clark stood momentarily in the middle of the confetti, with her teammates and their families posing for pictures around her while the nets were being cut. Star of “Ted Lasso,” Jason Sudeikis, was also present at the Iowa celebration. He was sporting a hoodie that read, “Everyone watches women’s sports.” But Clark was lost in her own universe for a little while.

“I think just having a little silence for myself was the biggest thing,” Clark stated. “You’re a competitor, you work so hard for 40 minutes — just to soak it in, enjoy it, take a couple of deep breaths, because these moments go fast. My career is almost over.”

That is, her time in college: Clark is predicted to be picked first overall by the Indiana Fever in the WNBA draft on April 15th. She does, however, have at least one more game to don an Iowa uniform—the No. 22, which has grown to be among the most well-liked in basketball.

The Tigers’ emphatic victory in the previous season’s championship game contributed to the perception among many that the Hawkeyes, who were the top seed going into the Elite Eight, were the underdogs. On Monday, though, the Hawkeyes got off to a strong start. Additionally, Iowa established a lead that it didn’t relinquish in the third quarter, when Clark’s trademark 3-pointers stole the show. The program made it to its third Final Four overall and its second in a row.

With a viewership of almost 10 million, the women’s NCAA basketball championship in Dallas last year was the most watched game in history. Although it provided for a lot of drama, coaches Lisa Bluder of Iowa and Kim Mulkey of LSU bemoaned the fact that their teams did not play each other in the Final Four this season. Who would go to Cleveland next? LSU’s Angel Reese, last season’s Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four? Or Clark, perhaps one of the most influential players in women’s college basketball history?

“No matter which way it went tonight,” Reese replied, “I knew this was going to be a night for the ages.”

Ultimately, it was Clark who moved on. Reese fouled out but ended with 17 points and 20 rebounds. She might decide to return to LSU for another season or declare for the 2018 WNBA draft.

Tigers outrebounded Hawkeyes 54–36, but Iowa shot 46.5% to 38.6% better than LSU.

Clark scored 41 points against Louisville in the regional finals of the previous year. She added to her collection of records during Monday’s game.

She set the record for the most points in a season, which now stands at 1,183, earlier this season and became the all-time best scorer in NCAA Division I history. She also became the first player in women’s basketball history to have more than 3,000 points and 1,000 assists.

With his current career total of 3,900 points, Clark has surpassed Francis Marion’s Pearl Moore, who scored 3,884 points at the small-college level in the AIAW prior to the NCAA era, between 1975 and 1979.

In addition, Clark surpassed Taylor Robertson of Oklahoma for the Division I career 3-point record. With nine long-range points on Monday, she tied the record for the most points in an NCAA tournament single-game with 540.

Before Monday’s contest, Clark had shot 22 of 76 (28.9%) from three-point range in her previous six games, three of which were in the Big Ten tournament and three of which were in the NCAA tournament. On Monday, however, Clark was 9 out of 20 (45%) from behind the arc.

“Everything averages out over the course of the year,” Clark stated. “I think that just speaks to the confidence I have in myself, the time I put in the gym. I know I’m ready for this moment. I thought my shot felt good in warmups. It certainly helps when you make your first 3 “