Caitlin Clark lifts Iowa to rematch win over LSU

April 1, 2024 – 9:33 PM PDT

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) cuts the net after defeating the LSU Lady Tigers in the finals of the Albany Regional in the 2024 NCAA Tournament at MVP Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) cuts the net after defeating the LSU Lady Tigers in the finals of the Albany Regional in the 2024 NCAA Tournament at MVP Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

ALBANY, N.Y. — This year, Caitlin Clark and Iowa would not be denied by LSU.


Clark scored 41 points and had 12 assists as the top-seeded Hawkeyes defeated third-seeded LSU 94-87 in the Albany 2 Region final to advance to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.

The game was a rematch of the 2023 national final, won 102-85 by LSU.

“Being so close last year, that’s what just drives you,” Clark said. “We don’t want this to end.”

At the Final Four in Cleveland on Friday, Iowa will take on third-seeded UConn, which beat No. 1 Southern California 80-73 later Monday to lock up the Portland 3 Region.

The rematch between the Hawkeyes and Tigers was highly anticipated since the regional brackets were unveiled two weeks ago, and it didn’t disappoint. Clark and LSU star Angel Reese — the two memorably jawed at each other in the 2023 title game — each turned in standout performances, with Clark bolstered by a strong game from the whole Iowa lineup.

Kate Martin scored 21 for the Hawkeyes (33-4), and Sydney Affolter added 16.

Flau’jae Johnson had a team-high 23 points for LSU (31-6), and Reese finished with 17 points and a game-high 20 rebounds before fouling out with 1:45 left. Mikaylah Williams contributed 18 points, and Aneesah Morrow scored 14 and pulled down 14 boards.

Clark, the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer in Division I history (women’s and men’s), set another record in the win. With her 3-pointer at the 5:09 mark of the third quarter, her seventh of the game, Clark broke the record set by Oklahoma’s Taylor Robertson last year for most career 3s made (537).

The capacity crowd in Albany had a decidedly pro-Iowa flavor, cheering wildly for the Hawkeyes throughout.

The game was frenetic from the start, with the teams putting up points in a flurry. That’s no surprise: Iowa entered as the nation’s top-scoring team at 91.9 points per game, with LSU second at 85.9.

With Hailey Van Lith guarding her, Clark scored five quick points as the Hawkeyes took a 9-4 lead. After Van Lith went out at the 7:28 mark, Clark scored a 3-pointer off a turnover to put Iowa up by eight.

But with Last-Tear Poa guarding her, Clark had fewer clean looks, allowing the Tigers to close the gap, and LSU ended the quarter on a 10-0 run — including three layups by Reese — to take a 31-26 lead.

A Van Lith 3-pointer to open the second period extended the lead to eight, but Clark then went to work, scoring eight points to help Iowa erase the deficit and sending the teams to the locker room tied at 45.

Iowa was relentless in the third quarter, with Clark scoring 12 points and the Hawkeyes outpacing the Tigers 24-13 to take control of the game, ending the period up 69-58.

“We started the game and we started the third quarter with a punch,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.

And it was Clark who provided that punch after halftime with a 3-pointer to put Iowa ahead 48-45.

“She came out with a different look in her eye,” Bluder said of Clark after the half.

Rebounding kept the Tigers in the game, as they outrebounded the Hawkeyes 54-36 and scored 44 points in the paint.

LSU shot only 38.6 percent (34 of 88) from the field, taking 19 more shots that Iowa, which shot 46.4 percent (32 of 69). Clark was 9 for 20 from long distance, tying the record for most 3-pointers in a game in Women’s NCAA Tournament history.

Clark produced the second-ever women’s tourney performance of 40-plus points and 10-assist assists, duplicating her own effort in the Elite Eight against Louisville last year (41 points, 10 assists).

LSU coach Kim Mulkey said there was no strategy her team could employ to shut down Clark as either a scorer or facilitator.

“She’s just a generational player,” Mulkey said. “She just makes everyone around her better.”

Mulkey delivered a parting message after the game to Clark, who plans to enter the 2024 WNBA Draft.

“I said, ‘I sure am glad you’re leaving, girl, you’re something else,'” Mulkey said.

-Field Level Media

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