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Kim Mulkey, Angel Reese lead LSU to first national championship

(Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

LSU is bringing home the first national championship in program history after defeating Caitlin Clark and No. 2 Iowa 102-85 in Dallas on Sunday.

LSU head coach Kim Mulkey left Baylor in 2021 to lead her hometown team to a national championship, and she did it in just her second year despite tempering expectations throughout the season. Mulkey, a Louisiana native, got emotional as the clock ticked down on LSU’s inevitable victory, in tears as she celebrated with her team. The 60-year-old coach now has four career national titles.

“This team is just amazing. We built each other up from the summertime, and I’m just so happy,” LSU star Angel Reese told ESPN’s Holly Rowe as her team celebrated.

“Nobody thought we were gonna be here. Nobody.”

Reese had 15 points and 10 rebounds in front of 19,482 fans at American Airlines Arena, including many in purple and gold. With her 34th double-double of the season, Reese set the NCAA record for the most in a single season. She was also named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, in just her first season with LSU after transferring from Maryland.

LSU guard Alexis Morris came alive late in the game, scoring 19 of her 21 points in the second half and contributing nine assists.

Iowa cut into LSU’s lead by going on a 15-2 run in the first five minutes of the third quarter, but foul trouble haunted them early and derailed their chances of a comeback. Monika Czinano fouled out with over six minutes to go in the game, and Iowa had no answer from there.

Clark paced the Hawkeyes with 30 points and eight assists. The National Player of the Year passed Sheryl Swoopes for the most points in a single NCAA Tournament when she reached 180 points on a 3-pointer near the start of the second half.

LSU’s bench players stepped up big in the first half, scoring 29 points compared to Iowa’s two bench points.

Jasmine Carson, who came into the game averaging 2.2 points in the NCAA Tournament, led the Tigers in the first half with 21 points on 7-for-7 shooting from the field and 5-for-5 from 3. Carson’s hot hand lasted all the way until the end of the half, when she banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give LSU a 59-42 halftime lead.

The graduated transfer finished the game with 22 points and three rebounds.

Both teams’ offenses were firing from the opening buzzer. Clark got off to a scorching start, scoring 14 points on 4-for-7 from 3-point range in the first quarter, but it was LSU who took a 27-22 lead into the second frame.

The referees were active early, calling 12 fouls in the first quarter and 21 total in the first half. The highly-anticipated post battle between LSU’s Reese and Iowa’s Czinano was quickly defined by the officiating, with each big getting called for two fouls in the first quarter. Clark also took a seat on the bench at the end of the first half after picking up three fouls.