LSU To Face Iowa Sunday In National Championship On ABC
DALLAS – LSU and Iowa will take to the floor Sunday on ABC at 2:30 p.m. CT in the American Airlines Center as both programs make their first National Championship game appearance.
A new champion will be crowned on Sunday. Prior to this season, both LSU and Iowa had reached Final Fours, but neither had ever advanced past the national semifinals. Fueled by two of the game’s brightest stars, both programs have had historic seasons that will culminate Sunday for a spectacular show.
The matchup will figure two of the game’s most dominant players in LSU’s Angel Reese and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark. Reese can set the NCAA single-season double-double on Sunday and Clark, the AP Player of the Year, scored the most points ever (41) in a national semifinal game Friday night in the Hawkeye’s win over South Carolina.
For the first time ever the women’s national championship will air on ABC. The game will be called by Ryan Ruocco and Rebecca Lobo with Andraya Carter and Holly Rowe serving as sideline reporters. Patrick Wright and Shaeeta will call the game on the LSU Sports Radio Network, 100.7 FM in Baton Rouge.
In her second year at LSU, Coach Kim Mulkey has refueled the program and put the Tigers in a position to compete for a national title. Although this is a first at LSU, Mulkey has been here before. Sunday will be the fourth national championship game she will be a head coach in. She has won each of her previous three. She is also distinct as the only person – men’s or women’s – with national championships as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
“Are we ahead of schedule?” Mulkey said about her LSU program. “I think it’s obvious we’re ahead of schedule. We’re sitting here playing for the National Championship.”
With a win on Sunday, Mulkey would become the first coach in NCAA Division I women’s basketball to lead two different programs to national championships.
After leading the greatest single-season turnaround by a first-year head coach in SEC history last season, Mulkey loaded the roster with nine new players to piece it together.
Reese was the headliner as the nation’s top transfer last offseason, coming to play for a coach she knew would push her to greatness. Reese has made history every step of the way throughout the season. In Friday’s game against Virginia Tech, she set the SEC record for rebounds in a season and on Sunday she has the opportunity to record her 34th double-double of the year that would set the NCAA record.
“We’re not going to stop fighting until the end, and I think we just have that dog mentality within the team,” Reese said. “I think it just built on early on in the year. So just keeping the team confident. They’re going to go on runs. We’re going to go on runs. And just staying resilient and being able to be calm throughout the storm.”
LSU trailed by as many as 12 in the third quarter in Friday’s Final Four matchup against Virginia Tech. The Tigers outscored the Hokies, 29-13, in the final quarter to win the game. Both Reese and Alexis Morris had 10 fourth quarter points to fuel the run.
Morris, the only returning contributor from last year’s LSU team, was steady all night for LSU, both on the offensive and defensive end. Every player seemingly made plays down the stretch for LSU to win whether it was a big rebound from Reese, a clutch three from Morris, a 10-foot jumper from LaDazhia Williams, a knockdown three by Kateri Poole or a steal and fast-break layup by Flau’jae Johnson.
The Tigers will face a big test Sunday for the National Championship. To make it to Sunday, Iowa knocked off the defending national champions and previously undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks. Clark was the straw that stirred the drink for the Hawkeyes. She has scored over 40 points in both of the past two games. And although neither of those games were a triple double, she lead leads the nation with five of those this season.
“She’s going to get her points,” Coach Kim Mulkey said. “That girl is phenomenal shooting the ball. But the most impressive thing to me, now that you’re talking to an old point guard, is she makes everybody around her better. You have great players that can get numbers, but she makes others on her team better.”