April 4, 2023 

Jasmine Carson’s success in the title game came as no surprise to Kim Mulkey

Coming off the bench, Carson made the difference

DALLAS — Third time was the charm for guard Jasmine Carson. The graduate transfer from West Virginia became a national champion in final game of her college basketball career. The transfer was her second, making Kim Mulkey and LSU the third school she has played for in five years. Capping of her final season with title is an ultimate goal when a player transfers. Carson achieved that goal in record-setting fashion, hitting her first seven shots in LSU’s 102-85 win over Iowa.

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“It was a surreal moment,” Carson told reporters following the game. “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.”

Jasmine Carson against Iowa in the NCAA Championship game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX. Credit: Domenic Allegra

Carson played a perfect first half. She was 7-for-7 from the field, 5-for-5 from three point range. She propelled the Tigers to a 59-42 lead at halftime of the championship game, punctuating the half with a banked-in three that sent the American Airlines Arena crowd — well, the part of it not wearing yellow and black — into a frenzy.

When it was over, LSU had scored the most points in a championship game in tournament history. The record was previously held by Texas who scored 97 points in 1986. The title? LSU’s first.

The 2023 Women’s Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Angel Reese, got into some early foul trouble, picking up two in the first quarter. Reese said the win was not about her and it was all about the supporting cast. Everybody played a role all season.

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“Just coming from the bench, Jaz [Carson], [Last-Tear] Poa, Sa’Myah [Smith], they came and stepped up and played big,” Reese said. “[Carson] didn’t want to go out as a senior, go out the wrong way and wanted to win, so she did whatever it takes to win.”

Carson scored 16 points in the second quarter alone.

“I just wanted to win. I wanted to do anything that my team needed in this game, whether it was defense, rebounding, just anything, supporting them,” Carson said.

The proof is in the portal

LSU head coach Kim Mulkey at the semi-final game against Virginia Tech at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, TX. Credit: Domenic Allegra

Head coach Kim Mulkey said Carson may be the second best pure shooter that she has ever coached in her career and that she can just light it up. This was especially true for Carson in the title game.

However, her performance in the tournament prior to the championship game was subpar — she only scored 11 points in the first five games of the tournament. During the postgame press conference, Mulkey said Carson was not benched because of her play, but because she needed bigger bodies against some of the teams in the playoffs.

If one player has a bad game it does not have much of an effect on the teams that have a deep bench. LSU’s bench outscored Iowa’s bench 30-8. The Tigers had nine new players on its roster this season. The activity in the portal gives coaches another option to build their team with more experienced players and those looking grow and showcase their skills on a bigger stage. This allowed Mulkey to create a championship team in just her second season as head coach at LSU.

Carson shoots over McKenna Warnock in NCAA championship game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX. Credit: Domenic Allegra

I’ve been working hard my whole life. I came to LSU just to contribute and win a national title and play under a Hall of Fame coach and play with great players.

Hard work pays off, and God is great. Everybody’s journey is different, and you should just embrace your journey. I couldn’t have wanted a better ending than for it to end like this.

– Carson during postgame press conference

The trust from her teammates never waned even when she was not playing well. 6’4 forward LaDazhia Williams told The Next that it was good to see Carson get back into her groove.

“We were all hyped for each other, even if she missed a shot. We’re told to keep shooting and we tell each and every one of us you know, keep shooting, it’s gonna fall for us,” she said.

Carson hits buzzer beater at the end of the second quarter

At the best possible time, that came true for Carson.

“Hard work pays off, and God is great. Everybody’s journey is different, and you should just embrace your journey. I couldn’t have wanted a better ending than for it to end like this.”

Jenn Hatfield contributed reporting to this piece.

Written by Arie Graham

Arie Graham joined 'The Next' in May 2021 as the beat writer for the Dallas Wings.

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