LSU coasts past Caitlin Clark, Iowa for first national title
DALLAS -- Jasmine Carson picked an excellent day to play one of the best basketball games of her life.
In the national championship at the American Airlines Center, Carson scored 22 points to lead No. 3-seeded LSU to a 102-85 win over No. 2 Iowa, making the Tigers champions of women's college basketball for the first time in front of an announced sellout crowd of 19,482 fans.
"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. "I scored tonight, and that's what pushed us and got us momentum, and I'm just proud of my teammates."
It's the fourth national title for LSU coach Kim Mulkey, who won her first three titles at Baylor. She became the first women's coach in the sport's history to win national championships at two Division I programs.
"With about 1:30 to go, I couldn't hold it. I got very emotional. That's really not like me until the buzzer goes off, but I knew we were going to hold on and win this game," Mulkey said. "Coaches are hollering, ‘Get off the court.' And I said, ‘Don't tell me what to do, I'm fixing to win another championship.'"
Carson -- a fifth-year guard who transferred to LSU (34-2) last offseason after spending previous seasons at West Virginia and Georgia Tech -- didn't miss a shot attempt until the fourth quarter. She finished the day shooting 7-of-8 from the floor and made 5-of-6 3-pointers to go along with three rebounds and an assist.
LaDazhia Williams added 20 points for LSU, All-American forward Angel Reese chipped in 15 points, 10 boards and five assists, while Alexis Morris had 21 points and nine assists and Flau'jae Johnson had 10 points and seven rebounds.
Iowa (31-7) was led by consensus National Player of the Year Caitlin Clark, who finished with 30 points and eight assists. Kate Martin had 13 points and Gabbie Marshall added 12 for the Hawkeyes, who were playing in the title game for the first time. Monika Czinano had 13 points and six rebounds before fouling out with 6:25 left.
"Obviously, foul trouble, not really what you want in a national championship game, especially for our two seniors who have given so much to this program and had to finish their career on the bench. It's not something they deserved by any means," Clark said. "I thought (the referees) called it very, very tight."
When Reese picked up her second foul at the end of the first quarter, conventional thinking suggested that LSU would be in for a rough second period without its star on the court. But LSU not only held on to its lead, but extended it.
Behind the play of Carson, who scored 16 points in the second on 6-of-6 shooting from the floor and 4-of-4 shooting from 3-point range, the Tigers led by as many as 17 points with Reese on the bench. Last-Tear Poa also connected on a pair of shots from behind the arc in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, LSU held Clark -- who was whistled for her third foul in the second quarter -- to just two points in the second after she scored 14 in the first. LSU led 59-42 at halftime when Carson banked in a 3-pointer before the buzzer.
Clark and Reese both returned to the floor in the third. Despite Clark hitting a 3-pointer that made her the sole owner of the NCAA's single-tournament scoring record -- previously held by Sheryl Swoopes, who set it in 1993 -- LSU retained its double-digit lead going into the fourth. Clark also picked up a technical foul in the third.
"I can't comment on the officials. It's very frustrating because I feel like I can't talk to them," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "They won't even listen. That's what's frustrating is there wasn't even a conversation that could be had."
Iowa cut the deficit to eight in the fourth quarter, but never got any closer.
LSU's point total is the most it scored against a power-conference opponent this season and its 11 3-pointers tied a season-high.
--By Mitchell Northam, Field Level Media
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