April 2, 2023
How LSU’s Alexis Morris shut the door on Iowa
A long, winding road to a national championship
DALLAS — Eight minutes and 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter. That was the moment LSU’s senior guard Alexis Morris’ first midrange jumper in the fourth quarter fell. For her, that was the moment Morris knew she was going home a national champion.
“I’ll be honest, when my mid-ranges start falling, I was like oh, yeah. It’s nothing against my teammates, but I said, this is my time,” Morris told reporters following the game. “I’m not going to let it slip out of my hands. We’re too close. I just smelled [it], I just tasted it at the time.”
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Iowa was ready to throw everything they had left at LSU as they entered the fourth quarter, down 11 points. Alexis Morris was the knockout punch for the Tigers.
Morris would go 6-for-6 in the fourth quarter totaling, 15 points. Her play would be the backbone of LSU’s offense in the closing 10 minutes — no other Tiger would score more than four points. LSU junior and the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, Angel Reese, knew Morris had this performance in her.
“Lex, she’s a first rounder. I told her all year,” Reese said. “I told her, ‘don’t turn on and off. You can kill every single possession that you can if you really want to.’ I’ve told her that. She just gets into a mode where she’s unstoppable at some point.”
For LSU head coach Kim Mulkey, it was more than just the scoring in the fourth quarter that stood out from Morris’ game.
“Alexis Morris guarded two of the finest women’s basketball players that our game has,” Mulkey said. “She did it against [Georgia] Amoore with Virginia Tech, and she did it tonight.
“She didn’t keep them from scoring. They’re that good. But what she did is she made every shot they took a little bit maybe more difficult instead of easy. We knew Caitlin was going to shoot the ball. We knew she was going to make her threes. But we couldn’t give her the 10 to 12 points she always gets off of layups.”
To say Morris has taken the road less traveled to a national championship would be an extreme understatement. She grew up in Beaumont, Texas, about four hours from Dallas where her dreams would come true. That is where her story with Mulkey began.
“Alexis Morris, I’ve known that child since she was in the seventh grade,” Mulkey said. “Went to a private school there in Beaumont, Texas. Came to my camps many years. That smile, that spunk, never, ever has that child ever disrespected me in any way, ever.”
Morris’ college career began at Baylor to play for Mulkey but she was eventually dismissed from the team. Following stints at Rutgers and then Texas A&M she would find her way back to being with a coach she had years of history with.
“When I got the LSU job, she basically said, Coach, I need you in my life,” Mulkey said. “I’m coming back to play for you. You’re thinking, this is a kid who owned her mistake. This is a kid who never blamed a coach.”
At least one other person, outside of Mulkey, from Morris’ Baylor past was in attendance at the American Airlines Center: former Baylor Lady Bear and current New York Liberty guard DiDi Richards.
“It’s an unwritten story. I mean it feels like yesterday, we were at Mcdonald’s All-Americans together, we were roommates. Came in Baylor together,” Richards said. “We were talking about won the championship with Kim. I mean, she didn’t do it at Baylor. She didn’t do with me. But she did it and it’s a story and I can’t wait to watch her documentary and just live because it’s crazy.”
An incredible story, and one with a happy ending for Alexis Morris, as she leaves her home state a national champion.
Jenn Hatfield contributed reporting to this piece.
Written by Tyler DeLuca
Tyler DeLuca has been contributing to The Next team since May 2022. Tyler currently is the Big 12 beat writer for The Next. Tyler's work is also featured on Twitter with The Committee, hosting the "Art of the Paint" podcast and on Gameday U Hoops throughout the college season.