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Hailey Van Lith gives Angel Reese ‘trash-talking crown’ for LSU

Hailey Van Lith considers herself an elite trash-talker. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Hailey Van Lith doesn’t taking trash talk personally. Rather, she appreciates it, especially as one of the perfectors of the art form.

And she would like to see that appreciation from a wider audience, pointing out the difference in standards for women’s basketball stars compared to, say, Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler, who earlier in the NBA playoffs declared himself the best player in the world.

“When a woman does it don’t come at us sideways,” Van Lith told Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks.

A three-year star at Louisville, the 21-year-old is joining national champion LSU for the upcoming season. She helped the U.S. women’s team to the 2023 FIBA 3×3 World Cup title earlier this month. And she counts her trash-talking among her many on-court talents.

“I think it’s one of my strong skill sets,” she joked with  Rooks. “If you’re going to list pros and cons, the No. 1 pro of Hailey Van Lith is trash-talking.”

For Van Lith, though, the conversation around trash-talking runs deeper. She pointed to her new teammate Angel Reese as a “great vehicle” for bringing energy to the women’s game, saying that she “can’t wait to support her and back her.” She even awards Reese the “trash-talking crown” for LSU, pointing to her bravado and her bravery.

“I think the game is going to change when women feel comfortable in their sport, in their arena to actually say how they feel about themselves and not always feel like, ‘Oh being confident is unladylike. Talking trash is unladylike,’” she said. “No. All these things are a part of sports, and it’s what people love about sports.”

For Van Lith, the best trash talk doesn’t have to be loud.

“I feel like it’s much more intimidating, if I can just look you dead in your eye and tell you that I just gave you a bucket without screaming, you’re going to take that personally,” she said. “That’s my strength.”

Van Lith isn’t afraid to talk the talk on the court because she’s truly confident in her game, she said. And she’s excited to see players’ confidence grow as the game grows.

“There’s room for everyone at the table, and I just feel like now that we’re in a place where young girls in college — it’s like there’s always been the older WNBA players who have kind of pushed the boundaries, but now there’s this avenue for these young college players to really express themselves and and show self-confidence,” she said. “I think we’re going to see another level of reach in women’s basketball and women’s sports in general as this comes to life.”

Part of that level of reach has come as stars such as Reese and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark have come onto the scene. After LSU won national championship, she contacted Reese right away “because I just loved her energy,” she said. The two remained in contact after that, which is part of what led Van Lith to the Tigers.

“She just seems like the type of girl that wants other people around her to do well and see them win and that’s what I respect and love about her,” Van Lith said.

The former Louisville star’s commitment to LSU was followed by Aneesah Morrow, another star transfer, which has fueled chatter about the Tigers’ chances to win back-to-back titles. The team will also have to balance playing styles and personalities, but Van Lith isn’t worried.

“When you have the same goals – and that’s to be the best that we can be as a team – that’s not going to matter,” she said. “I’m with a bunch of girls that have that same goal and I don’t think we’re going to have issues on that front because we all just want to see the team do well.”

The vibes would work well for a reality television show following LSU as it navigates the NCAA season, she said.

“But I also see a little bit of a glimpse of a mini pro team. We have so many WNBA prospects and I really am excited because I think it’s going to give me a taste of what the league is like and playing on a team with such great players around me,” she said. “I’m very confident in what I bring to the table but also I think it’s going to help me, it’s gonna make me so much better for the next stage of my life which is the WNBA.”

As for a possible rematch with Clark and the Hawkeyes, Van Lith isn’t fazed by their most recent meeting, even after Clark made John Cena’s famous “you can’t see me” gesture in her team’s Elite Eight win against Louisville.

“It was actually hilarious because right after the game I texted her and I was like, ‘The media is dumb. I’m sorry. They just make stuff up and they just put it all over the Internet and everyone thinks it’s true,’” she said of the incident. “We were laughing about it because she did it to her strength coach. She didn’t do it to anyone on our team, especially me.

“I didn’t even see it in the game,” Van Lith continued. “It’s just funny how camera angles and perceptions are skewed through the media. It was hilarious, we laughed about it. I didn’t even know it happened until I saw it [all] over Instagram later.”

Clark, Martin Square Off in First Pro WNBA Matchup

Kate Martin #20 of the Las Vegas Aces and Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever look on during the game
Things looked a little different Saturday night as the former Iowa teammates went head-to-head in Las Vegas. (Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images)

Former Iowa teammates Caitlin Clark and Kate Martin shared the court once again on Saturday, this time as professionals.

It was Martin’s Aces that got the 99-80 win over Clark’s Fever in Las Vegas. The pair's former coaches Lisa Bluder, Jan Jensen, Jenni Fitzgerald, and Raina Harmon were all in attendance to watch their Hawkeyes — Clark, Martin, and former national player of the year Megan Gustafson — take the court.

"It’s super special. It’s cool for our program, cool for Lisa, for Coach Jan, for all of them," Clark said in a pregame press conference. "They’ve known me since I’ve been 13 years old and now I’m 22 getting to live out my dream and they’ve been a huge part of that and helping me get here and helping Megan and Kate to get here too. It’s a great moment for them and I’m sure they’re not complaining about a trip to Vegas."

As for her college teammate, Clark had nothing but good things to say ahead of the showdown. 

"I’m just really happy for her and everything Coach [Becky] Hammon says about her is so true," she said. "Every person that played at Iowa and was around her knows that to be true. She’s the ultimate teammate, ultimate person, ultimate leader."

In the end, Martin stole the show with 12 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes, while Clark amassed eight points, seven assists, and five rebounds over 29 minutes of playing time. 

"It was weird," Martin admitted after the game. "I'm not going to lie — just looking out on the court and seeing her in a different jersey than me, it was obviously different. But it's really fun. We're both living out our dreams right now."

The Aces next meet the fever on July 2nd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Barcelona Beat Lyon to Win Back-to-Back Champions League Titles

Barcelona's Aitana Bonmatí and Alexia Putellas celebrating after beating Lyon at the 2024 Champions League final
Ballon d'Or winners Aitana Bonmatí and Alexia Putellas helped Barcelona to a second-straight UWCL title on Saturday. (Ramsey Cardy - Sportsfile/UEFA via Getty Images)

Barcelona was crowned champion of the Champions League on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Lyon in Bilbao.

Alexia "La Reina" Putellas, who recently re-signed with Barcelona, came off the bench to score the team's second goal. Fellow Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmatí provided the team’s first. After the game, defender Lucy Bronze said Putellas was nicknamed "the queen" for a reason.

"Alexia is the captain of the team and she's the queen of Barcelona for a reason,"  defender Lucy Bronze told DAZN. "She's got the quality to do that in the last minute of the Champions League final when we were up against it at the end and it just sealed the win for us. It was amazing."

The victory marked Barcelona's first win over Lyon in a UWCL final, having previously gone up against the French side at both the 2019 and 2022 Champions League finals. It's also Barcelona's second Champions League title in a row.

"It's hard to win it once, but to do it back-to-back, Lyon showed how difficult it is and this team has finally done that," Bronze said. "I think we go down in history as one of the best teams in Europe."

This season, the team also secured a quadruple for the first time in club history, having already won Liga F, the Copa de la Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. The win ensures that coach Jonatan Giráldez — who has officially departed the team to join the NWSL's Washington Spirit — leaves Europe a champion.

"It was an incredible game. I am really happy, it's one of the best days of my life for sure," Giráldez told broadcaster DAZN after the game. "We did an amazing job. I am very proud of all of them."

Following the win, Putellas said her team "can't ask for anything else."

"Our objective was to win four out of four," the Spain international told reporters. "We have achieved everything we wanted. Every minute of sacrifice has been worth the effort — and I'd say that not after the game, but before, just entering in the stadium, with all the support we had here, it was worth it."

2024 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Aitana Bonmatí said that the crowd support made it "feel like Camp Nou."

"I am on cloud nine right now," she said. "It is an historic day which we will remember forever."

Sun’s Alyssa Thomas Ejected After Flagrant 2 on Sky Rookie Angel Reese

Angel Reese said there were "no hard feelings" stemming from Alyssa Thomas's flagrant foul. (Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Angel Reese might have gotten knocked down on Saturday, but she got right back up again. 

Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas was ejected from the Sun’s 86-82 win over Chicago following a flagrant foul 2 on Reese — the first of her career. While the two were battling for a rebound, Reese took a clothesline hold around the neck courtesy of Thomas before hitting the ground.

After the game, Reese told reporters that there were "no hard feelings" and she appreciated Thomas for playing her hard beneath the basket.

"I know she purposely probably didn’t do it towards me," Reese said. "But just being able to come out there and just be strong and stand on two feet, it was going to be a tough game and that’s what I’m built for. And my teammates had my back throughout the whole game. So I was prepared for it."

She also didn’t buy into the idea that it was a "Welcome to the WNBA" moment, but thanked Thomas "sending a message" because it helped her get back up and "keep pushing."

"It’s not just because I’m a rookie. I’m a player. I’m a basketball player. They don’t give a damn if I’m a rookie. I mean, I want them to come at me every day. I want them to come at everybody," she added. "I mean, they’re not supposed to be nice to me. I hope y’all know that. They’re not supposed to be nice to me or lay down because I’m Angel Reese or because I’m a rookie."

Reese finished the game with 13 points, five rebounds, and two assists over 33 minutes.

Barcelona to Face Lyon in Champions League Rematch This Weekend

UEFA Women's Champions League Final"Barcelona FC - Olympique Lyonnais"
Saturday's game will be the third UWCL final meeting for Barcelona and Lyon, having previously gone up against each other in 2019 and 2022. (ANP via Getty Images)

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off in Bilbao on Saturday, with a couple of familiar foes set to face off for the trophy.

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, making its 11th final appearance since 2010, will go head to head with a Barcelona side making its fourth final appearance in a row.

This will be the third time these two teams meet in the UWCL title game, having previously appeared in the 2019 and 2022 finals. Lyon won both of those prior games against Barcelona, alongside a total of eight Champions League trophies. That’s double that of any other club, with Eintracht Frankfurt coming in a distant second with four. 

Should Barcelona win, this would be the team's third title — breaking a tie for the third in the UWCL total titles race. 

But as these teams return to the UWCL final, it also marks the end of an era for both clubs. The game will be the last for both club managers, as Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez and Lyon’s Sonia Bompastor depart for new jobs after the season's end.

Giráldez is set to leave for the NWSL's Washington Spirit, while Bompastor will take over for incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes at Chelsea. Both coaches have earned one UWCL trophy during their tenures, while Bompastor also brought two Champions League trophies to Lyon as a player. She was the first coach to win a UWCL trophy as both a coach and player.

This season, Barcelona is looking for its first quadruple, having won a fifth Liga F title alongside the Copa de La Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

"We hope he can go out with the four trophies because we know how competitive and ambitious he is," Barcelona midfielder Patri Guijarro told ESPN. "It has been a winning era with him in charge and for him to go out with all four trophies would be historic and incredible."

But Lyon's Damaris Egurrola is excited about her team's chances of overcoming Barcelona once again — and to do it in front of family and friends.

"Lyon have something special," she told Forbes ahead of the weekend's final. "We have a great team and we have the players with enough talent to win any match."

The game will be a homecoming for Egurrola, who began her professional career with Athletic Bilbao.

"I’ve been thinking of this day and night," she said. "I’ve been dreaming of playing this match. Having the opportunity to play in San Mames is amazing. This is where it all started for me."

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off Saturday, May 25th at 12 PM ET and is free to stream on DAZN.

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