Clark, Iowa advance, count on ‘extra vitality’ vs. LSU


  • Michael Voepel, ESPN.comMar 30, 2024, 08:49 PM ET


      Michael Voepel covers the WNBA, girls’s school basketball, and different school sports activities for espnW. Voepel started overlaying girls’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

ALBANY, N.Y. — The collision course for final season’s nationwide championship sport opponents was arrange by the NCAA girls’s basketball committee on Choice Sunday almost two weeks in the past. Then Iowa and LSU needed to work to get there. Now, it is on.

The No. 1 seed Hawkeyes dominated their Candy 16 sport versus 5-seed Colorado 89-68 on Saturday right here at MVP Area. That adopted a a lot nearer and extra heated matchup wherein No. 3 seed and defending champion LSU took over within the ultimate 4 minutes to beat 2-seed UCLA 78-69.

Subsequent, it is a rematch of the matchup that drew the most important tv viewers in girls’s event historical past final season in Dallas. The Tigers gained the ABC-televised NCAA ultimate 102-85, after Iowa had upset beforehand undefeated South Carolina within the nationwide semifinals.

On Saturday, the Hawkeyes had barely stepped off the court docket after beating the Buffaloes earlier than the questions happened LSU.

“Anytime you may have an opportunity to go up in opposition to someone you misplaced to, it brings a bit extra vitality,” mentioned guard Caitlin Clark, who led Iowa with 29 factors and 15 assists. “I feel general, it is simply going to be a extremely nice sport for ladies’s basketball.”

LSU enters the regional ultimate surrounded by numerous dramas, akin to newspaper articles which have angered coach Kim Mulkey and a few unpleasantries that may have been exchanged between LSU gamers and UCLA’s bench and followers on Saturday. Bruins coach Cori Shut insisted nobody on her workers mentioned something “a bit loopy” towards LSU ahead Angel Reese, as Reese claimed within the postgame information convention.

There additionally was drama on the finish of final 12 months’s nationwide championship sport, as Reese pointed to her ring finger whereas circling Clark close to the conclusion of LSU’s victory. That was adopted by debate about whether or not Reese acquired undue criticism for her on-court actions as in comparison with different gamers, together with Clark. A few days later, Clark mentioned Reese did not deserve criticism and that it was all nearly gamers being aggressive.

Even so, the cameras shall be skilled on Clark and Reese, particularly, on Monday night time as they face off in one other high-stakes contest.

As compared, Saturday’s sport was relative stress-free for the Hawkeyes, who managed it from the tip. It was very totally different from Monday’s 64-54 second-round victory over West Virginia. That one, the final for Clark and her fellow seniors on their dwelling court docket, wasn’t determined till the ultimate minutes.

Nonetheless, Clark mentioned the important thing on Saturday was that Iowa by no means let up on the gasoline pedal. A part of that was the reminiscence of double-digit leads that acquired away from the Hawkeyes within the second half of losses at Ohio State and Nebraska this season.

“Even once we have been up 19, I am like, ‘Go, go, go! We do not cease!'” Clark mentioned of the Hawkeyes’ mentality in opposition to Colorado. “I feel that all the time needs to be our mentality, however that is additionally simply the best way we play. We play quick; we do not need to cease. That is how we dominate video games.

“There have been moments this season the place we form of let up and let groups again in. However that is not what we did tonight.”

5 Iowa gamers scored in double figures, because the Hawkeyes shot 53.8% from the sphere. Clark and her teammates all known as it one of the vital full video games they’ve performed shortly.

“I communicate for everyone on our crew: We didn’t come into this sport realizing LSU had gained, and have been like, ‘Oh, we need to win to play LSU,'” Clark mentioned. “We got here into this sport … targeted on beating Colorado, as a result of Colorado is a extremely good basketball crew.”

However now, almost a 12 months to the day after final dealing with LSU — the 2023 nationwide championship sport was on April 2 — the Hawkeyes will do it once more.

Clark mentioned she did not bear in mind so much concerning the particulars of that sport, partly as a result of she hasn’t needed to dwell on it an excessive amount of.

“Ever since this season began, my focus is like 1-0 each single time we take the court docket,” Clark mentioned. “I am not caught up prior to now, not caught up sooner or later. I would not be capable of be the participant I’m if I used to be too nervous about what has occurred or what’s going to occur.

“You possibly can study from every thing, however to be sincere, the run we went on final 12 months, it goes so quick, and it form of is a blur at this level. The most important factor to remove from that’s every thing comes down to 1 possession. I feel that is what our group realized from that journey is, we performed in plenty of actually tight shut video games, and having the ability to execute down the stretch is actually vital.”

And even when that wasn’t the case Saturday, the Hawkeyes are ready for it Monday.


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