April 2, 2023 

Takeaways from LSU topping Iowa for 2023 national title

Hot-shooting half by Tigers too much for Hawkeyes

DALLAS — The sound — 19,482 strong — began to build before tipoff even happened. It built when Caitlin Clark found Monika Czinano on a feed to score the first points of the game. And it was positively ear-splitting when Clark hit her first three to force an LSU timeout just over 90 seconds into the action.

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But a shimmering, sequin-heavy LSU contingent made themselves heard early on as Angel Reese countered, Eurostepping into a game that was tied by the midpoint of the first quarter.

A showcase for the biggest, best season anyone could remember in women’s basketball delivered in both intensity level and skill, both teams playing without a trace of hesitation in what ended with LSU beating Iowa, 102-85 to capture the 2023 national title.

Iowa's Caitlin Clark shoots a 3-pointer.
Iowa’s Caitlin Clark shoots during the first quarter of the NCAA women’s national title game against LSU on April 2, 2023. (Photo credit: Howard Megdal)

Clark attempted to provide a signature moment to cap a college season we’ll long be remembering as defined by her in the way 2016 belonged to Breanna Stewart and 2008 was owned by Candace Parker. She’d scored 14 points before the first quarter ended. But LSU shot an uncharacteristic 3-for-5 from deep, and 53.3 percent overall from the field, to weather that first Clark storm and lead after one, 27-22.

Signs of concern abounded on both sides with fouls — Reese and Czinano each had two in the first quarter.

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But if the first quarter belonged to Clark, the Hawkeyes quickly reminded everyone why as a team they enjoyed another season among the leaders in every offensive category, second in the nation in offensive efficiency. Threes by Gabbie Marshall and Kate Martin punished LSU for overcommitting on Clark, who managed to find Hanna Stuelke on a back door to give the Hawkeyes the lead.

However, the Tigers followed through on their vows Saturday to punish Iowa from the perimeter in way South Carolina couldn’t in the national semifinal Friday night, with the well-traveled Jasmine Carson, averaging 8.4 points per game, reaching double figures first for LSU. She hit her first seven shots, five from deep, to help re-assert the Tigers.

LSU made more than nine threes just three times all season entering Sunday’s game, but they hit seven of their first ten in the first half to build a 49-36 lead — then received further welcome news when Clark was called for a push off, her third foul, and reluctantly went to the bench for the remainder of the half. Clark would score just two points in the quarter.

And LSU simply couldn’t miss. Carson’s final heave at the buzzer, off the backboard, extended LSU’s lead to 17, 59-42, as Carson jumped jubilantly into the arms of head coach Kim Mulkey.

LSU extended to a 63-42 edge early in the third quarter, but Iowa wouldn’t go away quietly. A triple from Clark, then an old-fashioned three-point play by Czinano, a three by Kate Martin and another by Marshall quickly sliced that lead to nine, before a Reese putback slowed the run temporarily. But by the media timeout, Iowa was back to within eight, 65-57.

But shortly thereafter, LSU caught a break. Kim Mulkey asked for and was granted a review of a Czinano post move. It was not changed to a foul, but it let the Tigers catch their breath. They resumed their typical grind-it-out offensive attack, and shortly thereafter, Czinano was called for a foul, her fourth. Shortly thereafter, Clark got her fourth, a technical, as well.

“Iowa received a delay of game warning in the third period at the 7:28 mark for batting the ball away after a made basket, causing a delay,” official Lisa Jones told a pool reporter following the game. “The second offense was when No. 22 from Iowa picked up the ball and failed to immediately pass the ball to the nearest official after the whistle was blown. Rule reference — Rule 10, Section 12, Article 3K. The definition of the delay can be found in Rule 4, Section 9, Article 1F, by failing to and it reads, attempting to gain an advantage by interfering with the ball after a goal, or by failing to immediately pass the ball to the nearest official after the whistle is blown.”

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By the end of the third, LSU was back in front by double digits, 75-64, and much of the energy had been sapped from the Hawkeyes.

The fouls piled up from there. Czinano committed her fifth on a moving screen with 6:25 to go. Reese asserted herself, unencumbered, while Alexis Morris hit three consecutive shots. A second half was played to a virtual draw, the otherworldly first half from the field for LSU too much for the Hawkeyes to overcome. LSU finished 54.7 percent from the field overall, 64.7 percent from three. Clark had 30 points, but on 22 shots.

And when Kateri Poole hit what was LSU’s first three of the second half to extend the Tiger lead to 99-82, Angel Reese pointing to her finger where the championship ring will go, the Iowa faithful was silently standing, while “LSU, LSU, LSU” chants filled the arena, the Tigers on top at last.

Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.


  1. Hagarwood on April 2, 2023 at 10:06 pm

    This recap could have been more accurate. The announcers said Clark said nothing, so clearly she didn’t argue to get the technical foul. A large number of national media commented how poor the officiating was. This type of officiating significantly detracted from the excellent basketball played by both teams. It would also have been appropriate to mention Angel Reese”# behavior at the end of the game and post game. That behavior is bad for the game.

    • Avatar photo Howard Megdal on April 2, 2023 at 10:53 pm

      Yes! This originally published at the buzzer, but I have updated with explanation given to us postgame by the pool reporter. Thank you for reading!

  2. Hagarwood on April 3, 2023 at 12:37 am

    Sadly the update isn’t a lot better. The rule says attempting to gain an advantage. Since a foul was called and LSU was going to shoot free throws, there was no advantage to Iowa for Clark’s flip of the ball. It was a poor call. The end of game behavior by Reese was poor sportsmanship and deserves to be accurately reported. It wasn’t in this recap.

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