Final: LSU 102, Iowa 85
History has been made. No. 3 LSU wins the 2023 NCAA national championship, its first in program history.
The Tigers outlasted No. 2 Iowa to win 102-85.
After six attempts in the Final Four, LSU finally broke through to the title game and won it all.
When Kim Mulkey was introduced to coach her home state team in 2021, she asked everyone to turn around and look at the semifinal banners.
“Nowhere on there, did it say national champions, and that's what I came home to do,” Mulkey said. “It's emotional, and I am so happy. I really don't know how to explain it just a deep gratitude and happiness.”
LSU blasted off in the second quarter to outscore the Hawkeyes 32-20. The Tigers knocked down nine of their 11 total 3-pointers.
The Tigers beat the best offense in the country at their own game and put up the most points ever in a championship game. The 102nd point came on — none other than — their final 3-pointer.
Jasmine Carson topped the LSU in scoring with season-high 22 points including 7 of 8 shooting from the arc. Carson exploded after scoring just 13 points in the tournament leading up to the championship game.
“It was a surreal moment,” Carson said. “Every player dreams of being on a big stage like this and having the game of your life, and for it to come to fruition — it meant a lot.”
Alongside the most points in a title game, multiple records were shattered. LSU outscored Iowa 32-20 in the second quarter to lead 59-42 at the half. That is the most any team has scored in a women’s Final Four half since Georgia scored 57 in 1985.
The Tigers became just the third No. 3 seeded team to win the title and the first since 1997.
With a 15-point, 10-rebound performance Angel Reese notched the most double-doubles (34) in a single season.
Caitlin Clark scored a game-high 30 points setting a new record for points scored in a single NCAA tournament.
A championship is always a collective effort, and most of LSU’s collective came together at the start of the season with nine new players — including Carson and Reese. Only one starter remained from last season, Alexis Morris.
As they did for most of the season LSU outrebounded the opposition especially offensively. The Tigers scored 26 points off 19 Hawkeye rebounds. LSU's bench also outscored Hawkeyes 30-8 led by Carson.
A sellout crowd of 19,482 was in attendance to cap off a tournament record of over 350,000 throughout March Madness.
By the end, Mulkey crouched in her signature sideline position and was moved to tears looking out at the crowd decked in purple and gold. Mulkey takes her fourth title as a coach becoming the first woman to coach multiple programs to a national title.
3Q: LSU 75, Iowa 64
What looked like a blowout is turning into an exciting finish.
Iowa rebounded after getting hounded in the second to outscore LSU 22-16. But a slew of free throws kept the Tigers double-digit in tact to finish the quarter 75-64.
Caitlin Clark scored nine in the third including three 3-pointers, her total of seven is the most in a national title game.
The Hawkeyes' 12-0 run helped them claw back into the game, but their three top scorers are in major foul trouble.
- Caitlin Clark (4, including one technical)
- Monika Czinano (4)
- McKenna Warnock (4)
With 10 minutes, left to decide the 2023 champion you do not want to miss a moment.
📝 Clark breaks single-season tournament scoring record
Caitlin Clark continues to make history this March Madness.
With Clark's fifth 3-pointer, the Hawkeyes junior eclipsed the 30-year record for most points in a single NCAA tournament. Sheryl Swoopes previously set the record with 177 points through five games.
Now, she and the Hawkeyes will try to break another record and complete the largest comeback in championship history. LSU leads 65-57.
⏱ HALFTIME: 59 LSU, Iowa 42
The Tigers were on absolute fire in the second quarter. LSU outscored Iowa 32-20 in the second to lead 59-42.
That is the most any team has scored in a women’s Final Four half since Georgia scored 57 in 1985.
The Tigers hit six 3-pointers in the second half, that's more than their game average. Jasmine Carson hit an unbelievable 4 for 4 from beyond the arc. She leads all scorers with 21 points.
After picking up her third foul, Clark headed for the bench and the Hawkeyes' offense suffered. Iowa is down 17. No team has come back more than 15 points down in a championship game.
Here’s a deeper look at the stats through two quarters:
1Q: LSU 27, Iowa 22
Through the first 10 minutes, we got a shootout on our hands. LSU leads Iowa 27-22.
Both teams shot over 50% and made a combined seven shots beyond the arc. LSU averages just five made 3-pointers a game, and Iowa nine per contest.
Caitlin Clark leads all scorers with 14 points. Angel Reese follows with seven for the Tigers.
It’s a fast and physical pace thus far. Iowa has committed seven fouls including two on Monika Czinano and McKenna Warnock the Hawkeyes’ second and third-leading scorers. The Tigers fouled five times, two of which came from Reese.
Starting lineups for the national championship
We’re just minutes away from tipoff in Dallas. Fans are filling up the American Airlines Arena, where the cheapest ticket on the resell market is $401 according to StubHub.
The cheapest single ticket available to today's Iowa-LSU women's basketball game on Stubhub is $401 with this view. pic.twitter.com/Y2FlOoiKol— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) April 2, 2023
Here’s who will start the title game:
🤩 Battle of the stars: Caitlin Clark vs. Angel Reese
This national championship game will feature two of the biggest stars in women’s college basketball.
Angel Reese on one end of the ring leads LSU and Clark on the other for Iowa. These two explosive players embody the growing game from their monstrous social media presence to their style of play.
Reese isn't your typical forward. Yes, she’s 6-foot-3 and will dominate in the post but has the quickness of a guard. She can hit the spin move coming down the lane or take it coast-to-coast in a blink of an eye. The Tigers sophomore has had a huge tournament run averaging 22.6 points and 16.2 rebounds. She is the first player to record 100 points, 70 rebounds, 10 blocks and 10 steals in one NCAA Tournament, per ESPN Stats and Info.
Clark has all the flash from hitting shots from the logo or making incredible passes in tight windows. She carries the pace and 3-point shot ability where the modern game has moved. The junior phenom has had an eye-popping tournament thus far from the first 40-point triple-double in DI history to following it up with another 40-point performance against the suffocating South Carolina defense. Clark is averaging 32.2 points and 10.4 assists through the tournament.
While it’ll be rare if we see the two guard each other one-on-one, their competitive energies will square off. The gusto and bravado of these two stars extend past the box score.
Whether that’s Clark physically waving off a Gamecock player with the ball above the 3-point line or Reese prematurely having a ring drawn on her finger with a marker after the Tigers’ Elite Eight victory — these two are gonna carry themselves with a fiery passion.
And it makes for an exciting on-court product.
“I think more than anything people are starting to understand women can play with excitement and a passion and a fire about themselves,” Clark said. “That's what's fun. That's what people want to see.”
🏀 Morning madness: Everything you need to know
It's national championship day. 40 minutes will decide who takes home the 2023 NCAA national title — No. 2 Iowa or No. 3 LSU.
But before that, let's rewind a bit. In the Final Four, the Tigers came back from down 12 to defeat No. 1 Virginia Tech. Then the Hawkeyes stunned the defending champions No. 1 South Carolina handing the Gamecocks their first loss in 389 days. Caitlin Clark put on a stellar 41-point performance that'll go down in history as she also broke several records.
Now, the two star-studded squads will clash in the final game. These are two fast-paced, high-powered offenses. According to Her Hoop Stats, per 100 possessions the Hawkeyes and Tigers average over 110 points ranking second and fourth respectively. Both teams average over 80 points (Iowa 87.1, LSU 81.8) and shot over 45% from the field. There will be a lot of offense, but the Tigers have a significant defensive advantage holding opponents to roughly 14 points less than Iowa, but that didn't stop Clark and company against the nation's best defense in the semifinals.
No matter who wins, it'll be the first basketball, men's or women's, national champion in school history.
The championship also marks the first title game without a one-seeded team competing. The last time was in 2011 when No. 2 Texas A&M triumphed. That was also the last time a non-No. 1 seed took home the trophy; the most recent No. 3 seed to win was North Carolina in 1994.
Here are some readings we gathered ahead of the 3:30 p.m. ET tipoff:
- 'She shines in the brightest lights': Caitlin Clark's masterpiece leads Iowa to the NCAA championship game — NCAA.com
- Caitlin Clark's record-breaking NCAA tournament run, by the numbers — NCAA.com
- LSU’s Angel Reese is a role model, whether people like it or not — Just Women's Sports
- Iowa and LSU to Bring Competing Styles to College Basketball’s Biggest Stage — Sports Illustrated
- Alexis Morris: LSU to punish Iowa's 'disrespectful' defense — ESPN
- Kim Mulkey on Caitlin Clark: 'I couldn't take my eyes off her' — Daily Advertiser
How to watch Iowa-LSU in the National Championship
Here is how to watch the 2023 women's basketball National Championship:
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 2
- Location: American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas
- Stream: The women's championship streams on ESPN+
- TV: ABC
How they got here
Both teams are headed to their first national championships in their respective program histories. Here's how they got this far:
|No. 2 Iowa||ROUND||No. 3 LSU|
|Def. No. 15 Southeastern La., 95-43||First Round||Def. No. 14 Hawaii, 73-50|
|Def. No. 10 Georgia, 74-66||Second Round||Def. No. 6 Michigan, 66-42|
|Def. No. 6 Colorado, 87-77||Sweet 16||Def. No. 2 Utah, 66-63|
|Def. No. 5 Louisville, 97-83||Elite Eight||
Def. No. 9 Miami (FL), 54-42
|Def. No. 1 South Carolina, 77-73||Final Four||Def. No. 1 Virginia Tech, 79-72|
Here's how the teams stack up against each other based on past performances:
|No. 2 Iowa||STAT||No. 3 LSU|
|31-6 (15-3 Big Ten)||Record||33-2 (15-1 SEC)|
|No. 2||Seed||No. 3|
|39.8%||FG % defense||35.4%|
|21.1||Assists per game||14.9|
|7.5||Steals per game||9.5|
|2.5||Blocks per game||5.2|
|Caitlin Clark, 27.3||Scoring leader||Angel Reese, 23.2|
|Caitlin Clark, 7.3||Rebounding leader||Angel Reese, 15.7|
|Caitlin Clark, 8.6||Assists leader||Alexis Morris, 4.1|
All stats through March 29