The LSU Tigers know Iowa is their women’s NCAA Championship Game opponent. The Hawkeyes are still dancing after a massive upset over South Carolina.
We thought ‘rematch’ almost immediately after the LSU Tigers (33-2) defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies (31-5). Indeed, an LSU vs. South Carolina rematch for women’s college basketball supremacy was in order. There’s no doubt the Tigers and Gamecocks are the top two teams and must play in the final game of the women’s NCAA Tournament. However, the Iowa Hawkeyes had other plans.
Iowa (31-6) went toe-to-toe with South Carolina (36-1) during their Final Four matchup on Friday. Led by Caitlin Clark, the Hawkeyes defeated the juggernaut Gamecocks 77-73. As a result, Iowa moves to the NCAA Championship Game against the LSU Tigers while South Carolina heads home.
Applause is warranted for Dawn Staley’s program. South Carolina’s Final Four loss ends their 42-game win streak and chase for back-to-back NCAA titles. The Gamecocks will be back, but the spotlight is on Iowa for now.
Iowa started fast, converting 56% of their shots in the first quarter. South Carolina was caught off guard by the pace and the pressure created by the Hawkeyes’ shooting. We recall the LSU Tigers doing the opposite during their regular season game against Staley’s squad. Regardless, Iowa showed up ready to play and gave South Carolina hell.
The Hawkeyes led by one point at the half, a half that included Clark eclipsing the 1,000 points milestone for the season. She wasn’t done. Clark continued to lead Iowa in the second half, finishing with a women’s NCAA Tournament semifinal record of 41 points.
At one point, South Carolina controlled the offensive rebounds by a 25-to-5 clip. However, the Hawkeyes maintained a hefty lead in the fourth quarter and didn’t look back. Iowa’s pace on offense threw the Gamecocks for a loop they could not grasp.
The score indicates a close game, but Iowa ultimately controlled the contest from start to finish. As a result, they head to the NCAA women’s basketball championship for the first time in program history. The LSU Tigers are also playing in their first NCAA Tournament title game.
We’ll have more thoughts on the title game before tip-off, but our initial thoughts are simple. First, the LSU Tigers must find a way to slow Caitlin Clark. Second, Angel Reese and Alexis Morris must continue to cook.