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Iowa, LSU to play for each program’s first women’s basketball national title

Clark leads Hawkeyes past No. 1 South Carolina; Tigers knock off No. 1 seed Virginia Tech

By The Associated Press
Published: March 31, 2023, 9:50pm
2 Photos
Iowa's Caitlin Clark reacts after being fouled in the final second of the second half of an NCAA Women's Final Four semifinals basketball game against South CarolinaFriday, March 31, 2023, in Dallas.
Iowa's Caitlin Clark reacts after being fouled in the final second of the second half of an NCAA Women's Final Four semifinals basketball game against South CarolinaFriday, March 31, 2023, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) Photo Gallery

DALLAS — Caitlin Clark overwhelmed the reigning national champions with another sensational game, scoring 41 points as Iowa spoiled South Carolina’s perfect season with a 77-73 victory on Friday night in the Final Four.

The spectacular junior guard set a record for the highest-scoring semifinal game and became the first player to post back-to-back 40-point games in the women’s NCAA Tournament. She now has the Hawkeyes in a spot they’ve never been in before — one victory away from a national championship.

They’ll have to beat another Southeastern Conference team to do that as No. 2 seed Iowa (31-6) will face No. 3 seed LSU in the title game on Sunday.

Coach Dawn Staley and top-seeded South Carolina (36-1) had won 42 in a row, including last year’s championship game.

Trailing 59-55 entering the fourth quarter, South Carolina scored the first five points to take the lead. Clark answered right back with two deep 3-pointers and an assist to Monika Czinano to give the Hawkeyes a 67-62 lead they would not relinquish.

As the final seconds went off the clock, Clark threw the ball high in the air and galloped around the court.

Zia Cooke led the Gamecocks with 24 points. Slowed by foul trouble, Aliyah Boston had just eight points and 10 rebounds.

LSU 79, VIRGINIA TECH 72 — Alexis Morris scored 27 points and had two of her misses in the fourth quarter turned into putback baskets by Angel Reese in a big run as LSU rallied past top-seeded Virginia Tech.

Reese finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds for No. 3 seed LSU (33-2), which is going to the national championship game for the first time and will play second-seeded Iowa.

The win came in the second season since coach Kim Mulkey returned to her home state to take over a Tigers program that lost five consecutive national semifinal games from 2004-08 the only other times they made it this far.

Mulkey, who won three national titles at Baylor, joins C. Vivian Stringer as the only coaches to take two different teams to the national championship game.

Trailing 59-50 after three quarters, LSU went ahead with a 15-0 run over a five-minute span in the fourth period.

Elizabeth Kitley had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Virginia Tech (31-5), the Atlantic Coast Conference champion that was in the Final Four for the first time. Georgia Amoore and Kayana Traylor each had 17 points.

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