June 5, 2023

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Caitlin Clark leads No. 2 Iowa to a stunning win over defending champion South Carolina in the Final Four

Caitlin Clark leads No. 2 Iowa to a stunning win over defending champion South Carolina in the Final Four

(CNN) South Carolina The run to the national championship title seemed all but certain — the defending champion and #1 seed was on a 42-game winning streak in a row, spanning 389 days and dating back to last season in the national title.

It would take one of the best performances in the NCAA to topple the Gamecocks, and that’s exactly what happens Caitlin Clark Friday produced when second-seeded Iowa State led to a stunning 77-73 victory in the The last four on the undefeated defending champion at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

In all, Clarke scored 41 points—a women’s Final Four record—in front of a raucous crowd of over 19,000 fans, after hitting a career-high 41 triple-double points in the Elite Eight.

The newly crowned AP Player of the Year added eight assists and six rebounds, as well as the Hawkeyes’ final 13 points in the fourth quarter, propelling them to their first NCAA title game in program history.

“All we did was believe in each other,” Clark said on the ESPN broadcast after the game. “You know we might not be the tallest, we knew they were going to beat us to the glass but all we had to do was have some heart and some faith and you know we came in when we needed the big plays and I’m just so proud of that group.”

South Carolina guard Zia Cook scored 24 points and eight rebounds, while Boston star Aliyah struggled in the loss, scoring eight points on 2-of-9 shooting from the field.

The Iowa Hawkeyes celebrate after their victory.
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Meanwhile, No. 3 seed LSU mounted an epic fourth-quarter comeback to outlast top seed Virginia Tech, 79-72 and advance to its first national game in program history, which means a new NCAA national champion will be crowned on Sunday.

The Tigers trailed by nine points entering the fourth quarter but held on for a 22-3 lead, took a double-digit lead of 72-62 with three minutes left, and held on for a memorable victory.

LSU guard Alexis Morris scored a game-high 27 points, and star forward Angel Reese added 24 points and 12 rebounds, including 20 of LSU’s 29 points in the fourth quarter.

After the match, Reese said, “It’s like a dream. It never occurred to me that I was in the Final Four, and I still can’t believe it.” “It’s just crazy how my life has changed in one year. How much I’ve grown on and off the field and then be with this great program, LSU and then be with my amazing teammates and amazing coaches. I don’t even know how I feel right now.”

LSU women’s head coach Kim Mulkey, a three-time national championship coach at Baylor, in 2005, 2012, and 2019, became the second coach to lead two different programs to a national championship game.

“I am blessed,” Mulkey said upon reaching the title match. “I came home for so many reasons. Someone to one day hang a championship banner at PMAC. You never think you’ll do something like this in two years.”

“You think about all the men’s players who’ve played at LSU, you think about all the women’s players who’ve played. When they told me none of them had ever played in a national championship, I was kind of surprised, which is an achievement. That’s a step in the right direction,” Mulkey added.

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Iowa and LSU will meet each other on Sunday, April 2 for the Women’s National Championship.