Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Iowa, LSU meet in national championship rematch with 2023’s trash-talking on the mind

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Iowa and LSU will meet Monday night in a rematch of last year’s national championship with a trip to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Final Four on the line.

And the spotlight has never been hotter for either team.

Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes are looking to solidify their run and put a cap on a tremendous season with the sharpshooter. Not to mention, Clark topped the all-scoring charts this season and her greatness will be debated for quite some time if she manages to attain a championship.

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LSU’s Angel Reese reacts in front of Iowa’s Caitlin Clark during the second half of the NCAA Women’s Final Four championship, April 2, 2023, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

LSU comes into the match with the media spotlight burning ever so brightly. Coach Kim Mulkey has had to defend her players from wild opinions – much of which came in a since-edited Los Angeles Times column in which the players were described as “dirty debutantes.” But besides that, the Tigers have immense firepower and are looking to repeat as champions.

Basketball fans will also have to wonder whether the Elite Eight matchup will match the intensity of last year’s national championship. Angel Reese was sure of herself as she pointed to her ring finger at Clark toward the end of the game. On Sunday, she insisted there was no animosity between her and the top guard.

“I don’t think people realize it’s not personal,” Reese said. “Once we get out from between those lines, if I see you walking down the street, it’s like, ‘Hey, girl, what’s up? Let’s hang out.’ I think people just take it like we hate each other. Me and Caitlin Clark don’t hate each other. I want everybody to understand that. It’s just a super competitive game.”

Angel Reese hugs Flau'jae Johnson

LSU guard Flau’jae Johnson and forward Angel Reese react during the Sweet Sixteen round game against UCLA during the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Albany, New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

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Clark also agreed that trash-talking is a part of the game.

“Both of us want to win more than anything, and that’s how it should be when you’re a competitor and you get into a situation like this, whether it was the national championship, whether it’s the Elite Eight,” she added.

It will be a matchup of two of the best players in the country.

Reese is leading the team with 18.7 points and 13.2 rebounds per game. Hailey Van Lith is leading the team with 3.2 assists per game.

Caitlin Clark dribbles

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark brings the ball up court against Colorado during the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Albany. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Clark is leading the team in almost every major stat category – 31.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Center Shannon Goodman is averaging 0.6 blocks per game.

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Iowa-LSU will tip off at 7:15 p.m. ET.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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