A first-time champion will be crowned Sunday after a thrilling Final Four produced an unexpected national title game.
No. 2 Iowa (31-6) is taking on No. 3 LSU (33-2) in the women’s NCAA Tournament final, with both teams coming off exciting victories over a pair of No. 1 seeds on Friday night.
The Hawkeyes stunned defending national champion South Carolina, which had entered the game riding a 42-game winning streak, with Caitlin Clark leading the way with a Final Four record 41 points. LSU, which is led by three-time national champion coach Kim Mulkey, rallied past Virginia Tech thanks to an incredible fourth quarter.
Follow along for live updates throughout the women’s national title game:
Halftime: LSU 56, Iowa 42
Showing incredible accuracy from long range, LSU has opened up a 17-point halftime lead over Iowa, putting the Tigers 20 minutes away from their first national championship.
Follow the madness: Latest Women’s NCAA Tournament College Basketball Scores and Schedules
Senior Jasmine Carson has hit all seven of her shots from the field, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer off the glass at the end of the half, on her way to a game-high 21 points.
For the game, LSU is an incredible 9-for-12 from 3-point territory.
Caitlin Clark has 14 for Iowa, all of them in the first quarter. However, she finished the half on the bench after picking up her third foul as LSU extended its lead.
Iowa has turned the ball over 11 times in the first half.
Caitlin Clark ties women’s tourney scoring record
By scoring 16 points in the first half, Iowa star Caitlin Clark tied Sheryl Swoopes’ record for most points in a single NCAA women’s tournament.
Clark has a total of 177 points, including back-to-back games of 40 or more points in her previous two outings.
However, she sat down with 2:36 left in the first half after picking up her third foul.
First quarter: LSU 27, Iowa 22
A fast-paced and tightly called first 10 minutes are in the books in the NCAA women’s title game with LSU holding a 27-22 lead over Iowa.
Each school’s first-team All-American has led the way in the early going.
After topping 40 points in each of her last two tournament games, national player of the year Caitlin Clark has four 3-pointers and 14 points for the Hawkeyes. However, Iowa center Monika Czinano has picked up a couple of quick fouls.
Angel Reese leads the Tigers with seven points, but she and guard Kateri Poole have also picked up two early fouls.
Hawkeyes, Tigers underway for women’s crown
The hype is over. Now it’s time for the players to decide who will reign supreme.
National player of the year Caitlin Clark has led the way for Iowa throughout the entire NCAA Tournament, averaging 32.2 points per game in the Hawkeyes’ five wins.
Meanwhile, Angel Reese has been dominant for LSU, averaging 22.7 points per game and controlling things inside.
Whose team will be crowned national champions? We’ll find out in the next 40 minutes (or more).
First Lady Jill Biden on hand for women’s title game
No need for the national champions to go to the White House. The White House came to them.
First Lady Jill Biden was at the NCAA women’s title game between LSU and Iowa on Sunday. She and President Joe Biden are longtime women’s basketball fans, and the president attended several NCAA tournament games when Elena Delle Donne played for Delaware.
The Bidens also went to the men’s Final Four in 2016 when he was vice president.
The First Lady was spotted in a box opposite the team benches, sitting with tennis legend Billie Jean King and her wife, Ilana Kloss.
— Nancy Armour
What time does women’s national championship game start?
The women’s NCAA Tournament final is slated to begin at 3:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ABC. Streaming is available via WatchESPN and ESPN+.
LSU coach Kim Mulkey chooses tiger print for title game attire
DALLAS – There was no denying that Kim Mulkey was going to pull out all the stops when it came to what she was going to wear for the national championship game.
LSU women’s basketball coach did not let down all those chomping at the bit to see what she would wear next.
For the Tigers’ matchup with Iowa for the national title, Mulkey is wearing a full tiger-striped pant suit made entirely reversible, two-tone sequins.
After many fans were disappointed with the lack of gaudy in her Elite Eight outfit she wore in the win over Miami in Greenville, South Carolina last weekend – an ensemble that featured a subdued yet bedazzled jacket with white pants – Mulkey stepped back into the flashy with her Final Four fit that was hot pink jacket with large pink flowers on the sleeves from shoulder to wrist.
— Cory Diaz, Lafayette Daily Advertiser
Betting guide: Iowa Hawkeyes favored in women’s final
One of the craziest tournaments will conclude with the between No. 2 Iowa (31-6) and No. 3 LSU (33-2) on Sunday. Here’s a quick look at some of the odds for Sunday’s national championship game. All odds are according to Tipico.
Iowa is a minus-170 favorite against LSU, which is a plus-145 underdog.
What’s the spread?
Iowa is favored by 3 1/2 points over LSU.
What’s the over/under?
The over/under for the Iowa-LSU game is listed at 157 1/2 points.
Iowa star Caitlin Clark, like Steph Curry, has redefined what a good shot is in basketball
DALLAS — There are times, occasionally during games and often during practice, when Iowa coach Lisa Bluder’s jaw drops.
Did Caitlin Clark really just hit that shot, thread that pass or finish that layup in transition?
Yes, she did and she does — regularly. And it’s just as spectacular as you can imagine. Maybe more so.
Clark, the 2023 consensus national player of the year, has become one of the sport’s biggest stars and walking highlight reel because of her how-did-she-see-that?! passes and unlimited shooting range. But for as talented and awe-inspiring as Clark herself is, Bluder deserves some credit too. Because she lets Clark be exactly who she is.
But as Bluder herself admits, it took time to cede control.
— Lindsay Schnell
LSU’s Alexis Morris calls out Caitlin Clark’s ‘disrespectful’ defense ahead of title game
Pretty much the entire basketball world was amazed by the stunning play and swagger of Caitlin Clark as Iowa knocked off previously undefeated South Carolina in the women’s Final Four.
One that wasn’t impressed, however, plays for Iowa’s next opponent, LSU. The Tigers stand in the way of the Hawkeyes and one of the more incredible title runs the sport has ever seen.
More specifically, Tigers guard Alexis Morris doesn’t think Clark can dare LSU to shoot from behind the arc the way she did against the Gamecocks.
“I don’t think they can guard us that way,” Morris said, according to Sports Illustrated. “I don’t think you can just leave me open on the perimeter or leave us open on the perimeter. Me personally, I find it very disrespectful, so I’m going to take that personally going into that game. You’re going to have to guard us. That’s just the competitor in me, and the will to win.”
— Blake Schuster, For The Win
OPINION: Caitlin Clark, Iowa need to finish the job
DALLAS — Friday night’s win put Caitlin Clark in position to bring home Iowa’s first national championship. The Hawkeyes meet LSU Sunday afternoon in one of the most highly-anticipated — and unlikely — title games in the history of women’s basketball.
Want evidence of just how in-demand this game, and this player, are? In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, tickets to Sunday’s national championship are more expensive than tickets to Sunday’s sold-out Taylor Swift show.
Another difference besides ticket prices: Swift will play the same show in dozens of stadiums around the world. But for for Clark & Co., this is likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. That means they have to capitalize on the moment.
It’s noteworthy, to say the least, this year Iowa beat heavily favored, undefeated and overall No. 1 seed South Carolina. The Hawkeyes slayed the giant — but now they’ve got to take the castle, and the championship trophy.
— Lindsay Schnell
Morris reunion with Mulkey has NCAA title game finale at LSU
Alexis Morris will finish her college career playing in a national championship game for Kim Mulkey, the coach who five years ago kicked the standout guard off another team.
For Morris, it has been quite a journey of growth and maturation from her freshman season at Baylor and through two other programs before a reunion with Mulkey at LSU that will end on the biggest stage.
“Every player just has that coach that’s for them. Coach Mulkey, she’s my coach,” Morris said Saturday. “I asked God, if you ever gave the opportunity (to play for her again), I will never waste that. I will literally maximize it, maximize the opportunity, and that’s what you’re witnessing.”
Mulkey has known Morris since she was a seventh-grader at a private school in Beaumont, Texas. It was a difficult decision to dismiss her from Baylor’s team in September 2018 after what was called an unspecified violation of team rules. The school didn’t offer any details then and they haven never been detailed publicly by Mulkey or Morris, though the player does accept responsibility for what she called a “youthful mistake.”
— Associated Press
Iowa’s Caitlin Clark steals show with performance for the ages
DALLAS – No way the Aliyah Boston and Caitlin Clark Showdown could live up to the hype. Not after two years of anticipation and sky-high expectations.
Turns out, it was even better.
Clark met the moment and then some with a performance for the ages Friday night. Instead of shrinking under the pressure, she shined, draining 3-pointers, breaking ankles and firing pinpoint passes South Carolina could only watch whiz by. She finished with 41 points and eight assists in Iowa’s 77-73 victory that snapped the defending champion’s 42-game winning streak and sent the Hawkeyes to their first national title game.
“I think she’s the most phenomenal basketball player in America. I just don’t think there’s anyone like her,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “She had the ball in her hands almost all the time tonight against some pretty good defensive players.”
— Nancy Armour
Women’s Final Four does big ratings for ESPN
With South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark facing off in the women’s Final Four on Friday night, ratings were expected to be high.
They were record-setting for ESPN, the network announced Saturday.
ESPN, which broadcast both NCAA Tournament semifinal games, said the LSU-Virginia Tech early game averaged 3.4 million viewers with a peak of 5 million across network platforms. That was up 57% from last year’s early game.
Iowa-South Carolina averaged 5.5 million with a peak of 6.6 million, up 72% from last year’s late game.
Both games drew record audiences for a college basketball game – men’s or women’s – on ESPN+, the network said.
— Mike Brehm
South Carolina star Aliyah Boston declares for WNBA Draft
South Carolina star Aliyah Boston is declaring for the WNBA draft. She is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick.
“In this moment, I am truly breathless as I make the next best decision of my life,” Boston said in a statement. “I have decided to further pursue my dream by declaring for the 2023 WNBA Draft.”
— Jaylon Thompson
Dawn Staley calls out national media, Iowa coach’s ‘bar fight’ comments
DALLAS – Dawn Staley has heard enough.
The South Carolina women’s basketball coach was asked about the way her team is labeled publicly for their physical style of play after being upset in the Final Four by Iowa. Staley set the record straight about her team, which she said “exemplifies how you need to approach basketball on the court and off the court.”
“We’re not bar fighters. We’re not thugs. We’re not monkeys. We’re not street fighters,” Staley said. “I do think that that’s sometimes brought into the game, and it hurts.”
— Cora Hall, Knoxville News Sentinel