LSU’s Historic NCAA Championship Win: Mulkey’s 4th Title, Beating Clark & Iowa

by Chloe Baker
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Kim Mulkey decided to go home to Louisiana and help the LSU basketball team try and get its first championship. In her second year there, she managed to do just that! The Tigers defeated Caitlin Clark’s Iowa team with 102-85 which is a record-breaking performance for them. This was also the school’s very first championship ever in basketball for both men’s and women’s teams.

I looked at the banners for teams that made it to the Final Four, but none of them said “national champion,” and I knew what I came home to do. Winning this game made me the first coach ever to get a championship from two different schools – three with Baylor before coming back to LSU two years ago.

Coach Mulkey was feeling blessed that he got the chance to coach for a championship for the fourth time. It was also incredible because never before in history had anyone at LSU (men or women) won a championship. Coach Mulkey was wearing sparkly golden tiger-striped clothing, and this makes him the third Coach with the most national titles, behind Geno Auriemma’s 11 titles and Pat Summt’s 8 titles. He has also never lost a single championship game!

The player of the year, Clark, was really happy and could be seen crying out of joy. She mentioned how everybody in her hometown (Louisiana) were celebrating too. Unfortunately, the Hawkeyes team that she plays for couldn’t win their first national title – even though she put up an amazing performance with 30 points scored. Prior to this game, she had already achieved a 40-point triple-double in the Elite Eight which was an NCAA record.

The amazing guard set a brand new NCAA record for basketball points in a tournament, breaking the 177 points that Sheryl Swoopes scored back in 1993 that helped Texas Tech to win the title. At the end of the tournament, Clark had made an impressive 191 points!

102 points were also set as a new high for a championship game and this score broke the previous 97 points from 1986 when Texas fought against Southern California.

Coach Mulkey joked about how it was strange that she was preaching defense and rebounding only before hearing all these points had been earned.

First Lady Jill Biden attended the game and watched from a suite above the court with tennis legend Billie Jean King. Coach Kim Mulkey said she hadn’t yet met the first lady but she would agree to visit if invited to the White House. Jasmine Carson scored 22 points, Alexis Morris got 21 points and Angel Reese had 15 points plus 10 rebounds for LSU (34-2).

Reese, who was declared Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, said “This isn’t only about me. Every time I or Alexis leaves, someone else steps up to take our place.”

When Iowa trailed by 21 points during the third quarter, they started shooting from outside and went on a 15-2 run. They managed to make four 3-pointers plus a 3-point play and cut down the lead to just 65-57.

The Hawkeyes (31-7) were losing 73-64 with a minute and three seconds left in the third quarter when Clark was given a technical foul. This happened because she threw the ball away after her teammate got called for a foul. That counted as her fourth personal foul for that game.

Clark believed that the referee was too strict about their calls. She said, “I thought they called it very, very tight. Getting hit with a tech for just throwing the ball under the basket – sometimes things like this happen.”

Clark kept playing in the fourth quarter even though he already had four fouls, but it wasn’t enough to get his team any closer.

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said after the game that she was very proud of her team. She also said it was very tough for her to not be able to coach the players Monika and McKenna anymore. Coach Bluder finished by saying that even though they didn’t make it, she was thankful for the entire season.

When Katari Poole made a shot from way out, Mulkey was so moved that she started crying. She said that she could not control her emotions when the time came and got very emotional with tears of joy. She also mentioned it might be because she is now back home, here in Louisiana State University where “we” will definitely win our game!

After LSU made another basket, Reese stuck her hand in front of her face and moved it like she was telling Clark “you can’t see me!”. Then she pointed to her ring finger. After that, as the time ran out, Mulkey and Reese hugged each other and the Tigers all celebrated their victory!

At the start of the game, it was close but then Carson got really good at shooting. She made every shot she took in the second quarter, including four 3-pointers. When she scored one, she put her hands up in the air and her coach did the same on the sidelines.

Just before halftime, the grad student made a shot which gave the Tigers a 59-42 lead! This was the most points ever seen in a championship game’s first half and broke the record that Tennessee had since 1998.

In the opening 20 minutes, LSU shot 58% from the field which included going nine for twelve from behind the arc. The Tigers ended up shooting 54% from the field including nailing 11 of 17 shots from 3-pointers.

Before Sunday, Clark had a total of sixteen points and five assists before she got her third foul with 3:56 left in the game. The huge crowd of around 19,000 people weren’t happy about it. In addition to this, Clark had gone without scoring any point in 5 out of 7 games in her career during the tournament until Sunday when she scored 11 points in the finale.

Carson said that this game was one of the most important games of his life since he won a championship in college. He woke up wanting to help out his team however he could, whether it be by playing defense, getting rebounds or just providing moral support. Eventually, his scoring helped get the team some much-needed momentum.

If you want to learn more about March Madness, the Women’s College Basketball and AP Top 25, check out these websites: https://bigbignews.net/march-madness, https://bigbignews.net/womens-college-basketball and also our Twitter page at https://twitter.com/AP_Top25.

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