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Iowa Women In the Final Four: PostGame Review

Angel Reese after beating Iowa in the 2023 National Championship

The NCAA Women’s Tournament has won the fans over this year more than ever before. Singlehandedly, Caitlin Clark has raised awareness for the game of women’s basketball and the viewership of the tournament this year has skyrocketed. Monday’s night matchup, a rematch of last year’s national championship held many storylines and bad blood between LSU and Iowa meeting at the big stage for the second straight year. Politics have clouded the matchup making the game feel even bigger than it already was. The fact that both Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark had to explain that there were no hard feelings between them before the game is evidence that politics from last year’s game bled into this one. However, among all of the themes, the one that has surfaced most clearly in recent years is that women's sports have taken off, and that a single player has the power to change the entire narrative on women's college basketball, including those who oppose it.

Postgame Review

The game got off to a fast start as expected with Iowa making three of its first four threes to begin the game with an 8 point advantage. This Hawkeye team had been challenged all year in the loaded Big-Ten slate and came into the matchup with the best team they had played so far in the tournament with a chip on their shoulder. Not only were they looking to avenge last year’s loss to LSU, the program itself has been determined to win a national championship all year in Caitlin Clark’s final season, after everything she has done for the University of Iowa and for the sport. However, LSU quickly weathered the early Iowa onslaught and took their first lead just over midway through the first quarter thanks to a strong showing from Angel Reese that allowed them to maintain this advantage at the end of quarter number one. Perhaps for good reason, Angel Reese has been the subject of a ton of scrutiny and has not failed to appear in the news many times over the past year, including taunting Clark last year after their victory in the national championship. Reese has clearly reached her breaking point. The Washington Post interviewed Reese after the game Monday.

I’ve been through so much, Reese said, her voice breaking. I’ve seen so much. I’ve been attacked so many times, death threats. I’ve been sexualized, I’ve been threatened, I’ve been so many things, and I’ve stood strong every single time. I just try to stand strong for my teammates because I don’t want them to see me down and not be there for them. I just want them to always just know, like, I’m still a human. -- Angel Reese

Playing with a target on your back is not easy and is what Angel Reese had to do all year, but it is safe to say no one is feeling sorry for her even after another great performance against Iowa which gave her a tenth straight double double in NCAA tournament games dating back to last year. The first half was full of back and forth fast paced action with neither team stamping their grip on the game, evidence of this being a tie ball game at 45 with the half coming to a close after a lay in by Flau'jae Johnson in the dying moments. The score marked the highest scoring first half between two teams of the entire tournament so far. Not surprisingly, Clark led all scorers at halftime with 19 with Reese trailing shortly behind.

In a game of such high circumstances, it felt like only a matter of time before the crowd got involved and one team made a push to go on a run that would help them win the game in the second half. That happened to be Iowa as Caitlin Clark made a stepback three to put Iowa up 6 straight out of the gates leaving the fans and Hailey Van Lith in awe of an all time great shotmaker as she raised her hands to the sky in defeat. By the end of the third quarter Caitlin had caught fire and Iowa was in firm control up 11 one quarter away from the Final Four. The final frame was not much different, LSU never closed within 6 points again and Iowa made its free throws.

Survive and Advance.

The name of the game for decades is the only important outcome when March and April roll around, and while it was not pretty at times for the Lady Hawks they were able to battle adversity to come out on top. Caitlin Clark put on a historic performance once again finishing with 41 points and 12 assists leaving any haters in the dust. Kim Mulkey, who is no stranger to controversial statements, outfits, and getting involved in incidents like speaking out against players on other teams was humbled by Clark’s performance.

She's just a generational player, and she just makes everybody around her better, Coach Mulkey said of Clark. That's what the great ones do. -- Kim Mulkey

Women's Final Four Predictions

People may be looking forward to the women’s Final Four more than the men’s games this year. Basketball fans were blessed with two incredible matchups to end the year between stars of all sizes and profiles. Starting with the first matchup, N.C. State against South Carolina, this is a matchup of a huge underdog versus a Gamecocks team who has not lost a single game all season thanks in part to six foot seven center Kamila Cardoso who has dominated every team inside after returning from suspension in the first round of the tournament. With all the experts going with the Gamecocks here, as much as I like to pick underdogs this feels like one of those instances where there is no possible chance, Gamecocks win big in Cleveland. The second matchup is more intriguing and features the two best players in college basketball. The aforementioned Caitlin Clark but also UConn guard Paige Bueckers who was a headline name herself until ACL surgery kept her out for an entire season. She is averaging 28 points a game since the conference tournaments began. In Caitlin Clark’s first NCAA Tournament run several years ago it ended against none other than Paige Bueckers and the Huskies, so revenge is in the air. Games like this are a tough call, UConn has more talent around Bueckers but Caitlin Clark is the best player in women’s college basketball history and is hard to pick against as she chases a storybook ending to her career. Iowa wins a close one in a battle of top five offenses that comes down to the final minutes and loses to South Carolina in the championship game to put a cap on the Women’s NCAA Tournament.

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good sports article, accurate predictions.

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