LSU came out on top at the 2024 NCAA women's gymnastics championship in Fort Worth on Saturday, besting Cal, Utah, and Florida to capture their first-ever title.

The Tigers' win was far from a landslide. LSU took the first rotation handily thanks to 2024 All-Around winner Haleigh Bryant's team-leading 9.9375 backed by four additional 9.9+ scores from her teammates. But Utah then responded with three strong beam performances of their own, causing the Red Rocks to slide confidently into second place by the end of the second rotation.

By the halfway point, all four teams fell within .288 points of one another before Utah overtook the pack with a dominant floor showing after three rotations. LSU then went on to ace the beam event with Konnor McClain's meet-leading 9.9625 score, coming away with the highest collective score ever awarded to the event in NCAA championship history. The achievement propelled the Tigers to victory, ensuring them the title after the final rotation.

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"This team is full of individuals that have incredible character and integrity and love for each other and all the things you hear from coaches when they sit at a podium like this in a moment of victory, but I promise you it's a real thing," said LSU coach Jay Clark in a post-meet press conference. "I'm just so happy for them."

Contributing to Saturday's atmosphere of excitement was the absence of last year's champion and this year's heavily favored Oklahoma Sooners. Hot off earning the highest team score in NCAA history just last month, the top-ranked Norman squad suffered a shocking loss in the semifinals, where five major mistakes contributed to a third-place finish and a season-low team score of 196.6625.

With Oklahoma out, it was truly anyone's game.

"Every team was out there fighting for their lives — all four teams, it could have gone any of four ways out there," Clark told reporters. "As much as I feel for what happened to Oklahoma in the semifinals, I think it made for a championship that became so packed with emotion because every team out there believed they could do it. It was just tremendous."

LSU is now the eighth program in the sport's history to earn an NCAA women's gymnastic championship.
They share the honor with Georgia, Utah, UCLA, Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, and Michigan.

Hailey Van Lith is reportedly on her way to TCU, says Talia Goodman of The Next Hoops.

The former Louisville star joined LSU for the 2023-24 season, but a disappointing run in Baton Rouge saw her enter the transfer portal once again at the season’s end. Van Lith opted to use her fifth year of eligibility versus declaring for the WNBA draft.

Van Lith was admittedly less effective as a Tiger. Her field goal percentage decreased from .411 in 2022-23 with Louisville to .388 at LSU. She also went from averaging 19.7 points per game to just 11.6, due in part to a change of position from shooting guard to more of a point guard role.

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At an end-of-season banquet last week, LSU coach Kim Mulkey used her speech to wish Van Lith well, calling her "one of the hardest working players that I’ve ever coached."

"Her aspirations were to get drafted this year," Mulkey said, according to "And she realized, 'I need another year, and I need to go back to a place where I can relax and get back to my normal position.'

"And what do you do? You hug her, and you wish her well."

The decision to commit to TCU may come as a surprise after Van Lith paid a visit to Mississippi State last weekend. The Horned Frogs finished out the 2023-24 season 21-12 overall, coming in 9th in the Big 12 and scoring an average of 69.5 points per game. The program also made headlines in January when they held mid-season open tryouts in response to an onslaught of sidelining injuries.

The Chicago Sky made a splash in Monday night’s WNBA draft, taking Kamilla Cardoso and Angel Reese in the first round. 

South Carolina’s Cardoso, who was the 2024 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, went third to the Sky. The day before, the team had swapped picks with the Minnesota Lynx to land the No. 7 pick as well, which they used on Reese, the 2023 Final Four MOP.

Now, the two will team up in Chicago after battling each other in both college and high school

"She’s a great player, and I’m a great player. Nobody's going to get no rebounds on us," Cardoso joked afterwards, while Reese expressed excitement about playing under new Sky head coach Teresa Weatherspoon.

"Being able to be a Black woman and as a head coach, and everything she's done at the NBA level, I just knew everything they were bringing to the table," Reese said of the Sky. "Player development is something that I was looking for and they looked for in me. I'm super excited for this move."

Former NBA star and Chicago Sky co-owner Dwayne Wade welcomed the pair to Chicago.

“The foundation is set,” he wrote.

The Sky have entered re-building mode after winning a WNBA title in 2021. This offseason, they traded franchise cornerstone Kahleah Copper to the Phoenix Mercury for a package that included the No. 3 picked used on Cardoso.

Now, Cardoso and Reese will be looking to jump-start the team's return to contention.

South Carolina was down but never out on Thursday, coming from behind in the fourth quarter to claim a 76-70 win over No. 9 LSU.

The team went on an 11-3 run to close the game, securing the win after Angel Reese fouled out with 4:02 to play. South Carolina remains the lone unbeaten team in Division I women’s basketball. All five starters for both teams finished with double digits.

“Angel is a talent. She’s aggressive. She’s poised. She’s very unselfish,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “She’s mean, she’s physical, she is somebody that you want to play with because you know she’s going to play to the very end, she’s going to give it her all. That’s what you lose if you’re LSU and she’s out of the game for the last four minutes.

“When you lose Angel, you lose a big part of what they do, because she touches the ball and she makes the right decisions.”

“Experience — that was a big hit for us,” LSU’s Flau’jae Johnson said of Reese’s absence after fouling out. “We had four minutes left — that’s too much time to not have Angel Reese on the floor.”

It was the Gamecocks’ 28th consecutive road victory, the longest streak in SEC history and the sixth longest ever in D-I.

LSU had jumped out to lead by as many as 11 in the first half, with Staley saying that the Tigers “had their way with us.” But a 3-pointer to end the half from MiLaysia Fulwiley kept the Gamecocks within striking distance. After the half, the team outscored LSU 40-29.

“It was a game of runs,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “They made big plays. We made big plays. The team that made the last play was the one that was going to win this basketball game.”

With the win, Staley moves to 15-0 against LSU since 2012, while LSU head coach Kim Mulkey is 1-4 all time against South Carolina (0-3 with LSU, 1-1 with Baylor).

“I think we’re one of the top teams in the country,” Mulkey said after the loss. “Losing to South Carolina the way we did sent a message that we’re not going away.”

Those wanting to watch South Carolina and LSU women’s basketball may be paying a hefty price tag to get into the building.

Ticket prices for the matchup between the two top 10 teams, which is set for 7 p.m. ET on Thursday in Baton Rouge, are currently sold out. The secondary market is an option, although ticket prices have soared to as high as $2,373 on SeatGeek if you are looking to sit courtside.

Upper level seats could come as cheap as $53, but seats in 100-level sections were retailing for around $844 a piece. By Tuesday morning, lower-level tickets on Vivid Seats ranged in the mid-$3,000.

ESPN will be airing the game, with CollegeGameday rolling into town beforehand.

Auburn women’s basketball took down No. 7 LSU 67-62 on Sunday night, ending the Tiger’s 16 game winning streak. It was LSU’s second loss this season after a season-opening loss to Colorado.

The defending national champions entered the game with the nation’s best scoring offense, but Auburn held their opponents to a season low in points.

Auburn forced 15 turnovers, including one from JaMya Mingo-Young that sealed the game as she stripped LSU’s Angel Reese.

“That’s what we’ve been working on, just when she gets the ball just crowd her,” Mingo-Young told ESPN postgame. “I didn’t do it the whole game. But I just knew she couldn’t see me when she spins, so I went and got the ball.”

“This one was on me,” Reese wrote on social media. “We good! Geaux Tigers!”

Auburn coach Johnnie Harris said that the team had been working on that exact play all week.

“We guarded that play all week,” Harris said. “We knew, from the way [Reese] caught the ball, what she was going to do. We knew that she was going to drive it in that situation. … Once she put it down, we knew she was going to score. She wasn’t going to pass it.”

The win was Auburn’s first over a top-10 opponent since beating No. 4 Tennessee on Jan. 27, 2022. It also was the largest crowd the Tigers had ever hosted in the history of their women’s basketball program, with 7,720 people showing up.

“Honestly, I don’t know if they were there for us, or if they were there just to see LSU,” Honesty Scott-Grayson, who led the team with 21 points, said. “But we knew we had to go out there and put on a show, either way. We weren’t backing down from [LSU] just because of the name.”

To LSU coach Kim Mulkey, the outcome of the game was simple.

“We knew Auburn would get in lanes and pressure you and make it hard to complete a pass,” Mulkey said. “Energy and enthusiasm, [Auburn] just came at us. … Their effort was better than our effort.”

Elsewhere, No. 9 USC upended No. 2 UCLA’s perfect season behind a JuJu Watkins double-double. The loss leaves South Carolina as the nation’s only undefeated team left.

As the new year approaches, the college basketball season is heating up, and so is the player of the year race.

The Naismith Player of the Year award recognizes the best players in NCAA men’s and women’s basketball. Several players on the 50-player watchlist have lived up to their billing. One in particular has done even more.

Here are Just Women’s Sports’ contenders in the player of the year race heading into 2024, in no particular order.

Caitlin Clark, Iowa

Not much more needs to be said here. Last year’s Naismith Award winner is putting on an even better show this season. At the time of publication, Clark averages a league-leading 30.5 points per game and is seventh in NCAA Division I in assists (7.4 per game). At her current pace, Clark could overtake Kelsey Plum’s college scoring record by February. And while she’s a high scorer, she also spreads the wealth around to her team.

In what could be her final year in the NCAA, Clark has also stepped up her defensive play. She’s gathered 91 defensive rebounds through 13 games played, and her turnover rate is at a career low.

For the second year in a row, Clark may well be the best all-around choice for player of the year.

(Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Alissa Pili, Utah

Few players on this list have taken their team on their backs the way Pili has. When she shoots, she rarely misses. When she defends, she gives her all.

Pili averages just under 25 points per game, good for fourth in D-I. She also has a 69.7 shooting percentage, the fifth-highest in the NCAA. And she is making 56.5% of her 3-pointers, which ranks first in the NCAA.

Pili’s WNBA potential has been debated. But after the show she’s been putting on this season, there’s no question that she could thrive in the pros. Her size, scoring ability and athleticism make her an ideal draft candidate in 2024 — and perhaps a player of the year candidate as well.

(Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

JuJu Watkins, USC

The freshman guard is already making a huge impact for the Trojans. In the seven-week old college basketball season, Watkins has taken home six Pac-12 freshman of the week honors. And for good reason.

Watkins is averaging a staggering 26.8 points per game, placing her at second in D-I as a first-year player. She shoots over 46% from behind the arc, and she’s snagged 62 rebounds in her nine games played.

Before finishing her first semester of college, Watkins has cemented herself as a regular in USC’s starting lineup and as a favorite for national freshman of the year honors. And if she keeps it up, she could set her sights even higher.

(M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Paige Bueckers, UConn

Bueckers started the 2023-24 season with something to prove. The redshirt junior guard had less than 50 college games under her belt due to injuries — a good amount lower than many other players in her year. But she hit the court without missing a beat.

The 21-year-old averages almost 19 points per game, shoots 48% from the three-point line and leads her team in points this season. Bueckers also averages more than three assists per game, and she’s snagged 23 steals in 12 games. She is stepping up her defensive game as well. So far, she’s batted a team-leading 16 blocks as a guard and she’s collected 50 defensive rebounds.

If she continues to heat up despite the pressure of leading a depleted UConn squad, she could play her way into the national award conversation.

(Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Aneesah Morrow, LSU

Morrow is another player whose all-around skillset is serving her well early in the 2023-24 slate. Her versatility is allowing her to shine at LSU after her transfer from DePaul in the offseason.

The 20-year-old forward makes her presence known on the scoresheet, averaging 18.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. But her excellence continues on the other side of the ball. Morrow leads the Tigers with 34 steals and 17 blocks in 13 games played.

Through many challenges LSU has faced this season, including a prolonged absence for star Angel Reese and the removal of former starter Kateri Poole from the team, Morrow has taken everything in stride and remained a consistent and reliable player for the Tigers.

Honorable mentions:

  • Cameron Brink, Stanford
  • Aaliyah Edwards, UConn
  • Deja Kelly, UNC
  • Ta’Niya Latson, Florida State
  • Jacy Sheldon, Ohio State

Angel Reese grew up in Baltimore playing basketball on boys’ teams, doing what she had to do to stand out.

Now, as a 21-year-old and one of the biggest stars in college basketball, she returns to her old stomping grounds to play against Coppin State.

Reese’s Charm City homecoming will be the first time a historically Black college or university has ever hosted the incumbent NCAA championship team. Reese and the LSU Tigers will be bringing a sold-out crowd with them to PEC Arena.

“The demand for tickets has been endless,” Coppin State athletic director Derek Carter said. “The last couple of weeks I’ve been reminded of a lot of friends that I, honestly, had forgotten about.”

Reese is eligible for the 2024 WNBA draft — and with a name as big as hers, it’s likely she’ll enter and be drafted high. Seventh-ranked LSU wanted a homecoming game for Reese before she leaves the NCAA, and the HBCU in Baltimore is an ideal location. 

“Someone on the LSU staff called me and she told me LSU wanted to bring Angel home, and would we be interested,” Eagles coach Jermaine Woods told Andscape. “It’s not every day you get a chance to get an All-American, a national championship team and a Hall of Fame coach to come to your building.” 

The last time Coppin State hosted a team as highly ranked as LSU came in 2021, when Reese played there wearing different clothes — her former team, the Maryland Terrapins, were ranked sixth when Reese last appeared at PEC Arena. She drew a crowd then, too. 

The Tigers already have been upset once this season, by another ranked team in Colorado. Coppin State could be the next tick in the loss column for LSU. 

But beside the chance to play and beat a highly skilled opposing team, hosting the Tigers at their home arena presents a rare opportunity for the Eagles. Bringing such a high-profile player to their home city affords the team visibility and a lot of money from ticket sales. 

“My list has 45 names, and people are still calling me because everybody wants to see LSU and Angel Reese,” Woods said. “LSU could have taken this game to anywhere in the area — Towson, Loyola, Morgan, UMBC. But they chose Coppin, in the heart of West Baltimore.

“It’s an amazing opportunity, and it’s great that we’re bringing this big spotlight to Coppin State University.”

Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark are sharing the spotlight as the Sporting News’ Athletes of the Year for 2023.

The honor caps off a banner year for both players, which included a run to the national championship game. Reese and the LSU Tigers won the title over Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes, but the Iowa guard swept the national player of the year awards.

Of course, much of the discussion after the championship game centered around Reese’s hand-waving “you can’t see me” gesture, which mimicked Clark’s own celebration from earlier in the tournament.

Reese also pointed to her ring finger. Men’s athletes have done so as well, including Joe Burrow after winning the College Football Playoff with LSU in 2020 and Aaron Donald after winning his first Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams in 2022. But Reese received widespread vitriol on social media.

“I don’t think I was really surprised, you see, because I had been criticized a lot during the year for a lot of things I did,” Reese told TSN. “Because I’m a trash talker. That’s what I do. And a lot of people aren’t really used to that. I think people don’t expect that from women in sports. If it was flipped, and it was a man, you know it wouldn’t have been talked about or said or anything.”

At the time, Clark came to the defense of Reese. She and Reese are cool, and she thought the LSU star shouldn’t have been criticized “at all.”

After all, they are both fierce competitors. And they respect one another (Reese even said in October that she “loves” Clark, who she’s competed against since AAU, and hopes they can be teammates in the future).

In Tuesday’s TSN article, Clark once again reiterated her respect for Reese and advocated for her competitive fire to spread throughout college basketball.

“I think Angel’s great. I think that’s why so many people tuned into to watch the game, because there were so many great players,” Clark told TSN. “Honestly, it wasn’t just me and Angel that were great on the court. Neither one of us would have been in the national championship game if it was that way. I had really great teammates. She had really great teammates – that really went off in the national championship game, and that’s why we struggled to guard them.

“I admire her game. I think it’s great for the game. That’s what you need. You need that competitive fire. And I hope that spreads not only from Iowa and LSU, but to many other teams. I hope it’s the same way with all those top teams, that people can continue to show emotion.”

LSU basketball star Angel Reese had to hold head coach Kim Mulkey back from referees during Sunday’s 81-36 win against Northwestern State.

Despite Reese’s effors, Mulkey ended up receiving a double technical foul and her first ejection in her three seasons at LSU. Mulkey took issue with a charging foul called on forward Aneesah Morrow with 4:56 left to play.

“I’ve been tossed before,” Mulkey said. “It was time.”

Referee Timothy Greene awarded the coach with the technical fouls. After the game, she admitted to goading Greene into ejecting her.

“I think I helped him,” she said. “I said, ‘I’m not leaving, so you’d better toss me.'”

Mulkey was so fired up that Reese had to hold her back, which the forward laughed about afterward. Mulkey also thought it was funny, with Reese even calling for her son, former LSU baseball player Kramer Robertson, to come and help her.

“It was fun,” Reese said. “We both have similar personalities and we really like to win no matter the score. Of course she’s gonna fight for us and we all fight for her so, that moment was fun. We know she has our back and we have her back.”