April 14, 2024

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Kaitlyn Clark and Iowa advanced to the women's Final Four with a win over 2023 champion LSU

Kaitlyn Clark and Iowa advanced to the women's Final Four with a win over 2023 champion LSU

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Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes earned a rematch in last year's national championship game and came out on top this time against Angel Reese and the LSU Tigers.



CNN

The sequel didn't have quite the same cast as the original.
College basketball doesn't work that way.

But the two superstars from the NCAA women's basketball tournament a year ago — Iowa State's Kaitlyn Clark and LSU's Angel Reese — remain at the top of the sport.

On Monday, in a rematch of last year's national championship game between Reese and No. 3 seed LSU and Clark and No. 1 seed Iowa in the Elite Eight, Iowa came out on top 94-87.

With the win, the Hawkeyes will advance to the Final Four. They will face either No. 1 USC or No. 3 UConn, who they will play later Monday in the regional final in Portland, Oregon.

The last time Clark and Reese squared off — with Reese waving her hand in front of her face toward Clark and then pointing a ring finger as LSU edged closer to the national title — it was the most-watched women's college basketball game in history. The matchup was compared in 2023 when Magic Johnson faced Larry Bird in the 1979 men's NCAA title game.

Tony Gutierrez/AP

Reese made the gesture to Clark last year.

But Johnson and Bird didn't have the sequel (at least not in college) as Clark and Rees did.

While the rematch between Iowa and LSU was the big story heading into the NCAA Tournament, Monday night's Elite Eight matchups were just as compelling.

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USC is led by freshman phenom JuJu Watkins, second in the country to Clark in points per game this season. UConn's star is Paige Bueckers, who coach Geno Auriemma recently called “the best player in America.”

“The NCAA did the right thing, because tonight's women's championship game is one of the best in history!” Johnson said in Share on X.
“There is star power on all four teams, great coaching, and they all have great stories about how they made it to the Elite Eight! As a basketball fan and a fan of women's sports, this is heaven to me!”

Notably, USC and UConn play at the Moda Center in Portland — the site where it was discovered Sunday that The three-point lines on the court were uneven And not at the same distance from the basket.

Sarah Steer/Getty Images

Clark and the Hawkeyes had a great tournament.

In a statement Monday, NCAA Vice President of Women's Basketball Lynn Holzman said the issue has been corrected, and the court is now in “full compliance with the NCAA Playing Rules.” She added that what happened in Portland “was an isolated incident.”

“We apologize for this error and for how long it went unnoticed,” Holzman said. “This court simply did not meet our expectations, and the NCAA should have caught the error sooner.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the women's bracket, top-seeded and undefeated South Carolina will face No. 3 NC State in the Final Four. These two teams secured their places with their wins on Sunday.

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The women's Final Four is on Friday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio, and the national championship game is on Sunday.

To channel the movie “This is Spinal Tap,” the hype on this night of the NCAA Tournament went to 11.

“RIP to the viewing numbers, right? It's going to crush everything,” USC head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said Sunday.
“I think we'll all tell you, right, it's USC versus UConn, and it's LSU versus Iowa. But it's star power that moves narratives in athletics. “That's why the NBA took off, you know, when there were faces to it, right down to Magic, Larry and Michael Jordan.”

Clark, who has the most career points in women's and men's Division I history, is a generational talent. The 22-year-old is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft on April 15.

It's unknown if Reese, last year's Final Four MVP, will return to LSU or head to the WNBA. Reese, who turns 22 in May, is a junior.

Watkins is only 18 years old, and the lights will be even brighter next season.

Bueckers, a 22-year-old, missed significant time earlier in her college career due to injuries, Announced in February She will return to UConn for another season rather than opt for the WNBA.
In 2021, she became the first student to win the Naismith and Associated Press Awards and Wooden Player of the Year.

This is a developing story and will be updated.