As part of our 1-v-1 video series, USC’s India Otto sat down to interview teammate JuJu Watkins. 

Here are five things to know from our conversation with the freshman phenom from LA.

#1 JuJu defines her purpose as wanting to inspire others to not place limits on themselves.

Her advice to younger athletes is to “take a step back and just realize how grateful you are to be around so many great people and be in an environment where you’re able to have an impact on others. And don’t take that for granted any day.” She recommends “just always being in constant awe of how far you’ve come.”

#2 JuJu is self-reflective when it comes to the impact of her growing social media fame.

"People are always going to have something to say, so I think just taking that mindset that you can’t be perfect and everybody’s always going to have an opinion on something.”

#3 An LA native, JuJu says the state of basketball in LA is “just booming right now.”

“The Pac-12 and LA is just amazing, and I’m just glad that I’m able to be a part of that and feel the atmosphere every night.”

#4 JuJu is known for her drip.

Her favorite brands are Rick Owens, Alexander Wang, and Nike. And if she could have dinner with any three people (dead or alive), she would choose Drake, Bob Marley, and Beyonce. 

#5 JuJu’s favorite piece of advice:

“To whom much is given. Much is required.”

Watch the full conversation on the Just Women’s Sports YouTube channel.

As part of our 1-v-1 video series, UCLA’s Camryn Brown sat down to interview her teammate Lauren Betts. 

Here are five things to know from our conversation with the sophomore from Centennial, Colorado.

#1 Betts was the nation’s No. 1 recruit coming out of high school, an experience that taught her the importance of having a good mindset.

“I try to not put too many expectations on myself, I think that adds a lot of pressure. Obviously, I’m surrounded by amazing players and coaches, so I’m just trying to learn from everybody.

#2 Lauren transferred from Stanford to UCLA after her freshman season. When asked about the hardest part of the transfer process she said, “The reactions to when I entered the portal would have to be the hardest. Just trying to not listen to what other people were saying. But it was a huge [decision], so I went to my mom’s house and blocked out the entire world for a few weeks.”

#3 On the best advice she’s been given about life on the big stage: “Staying where my feet are. Just staying present, not comparing myself to anybody in any type of way.”

#4 Lauren shared her perspective on how she’s grown throughout the last year.

“I can do hard things. I’ve built a lot of confidence. I just know when things go low, I can get myself out of that situation, out of that mindset. As long as I’m surrounded by the right people, I can do whatever.”

#5 Lauren is a big Disney fan. If she had to make a starting five out of Disney characters, she would pick Sully from Monster’s Inc., Hercules, Merida from Brave, Lightning McQueen from Cars, and Moana (as point guard of course).

Watch the full conversation on the Just Women’s Sports YouTube channel.

As part of our 1-v-1 video series, UCLA’s Camryn Brown sat down to interview her teammate Gabriela Jaquez.

Here are five things to know from our conversation with the sophomore forward from Camarillo, California.

#1 Playing basketball at UCLA has been Gabriela's lifelong dream. She often reminds herself of that, especially during challenging moments.

“When it gets hard, I just think back to the times where I dreamed of this. If your 12-year-old self could see you doing this, she would be so proud and so happy and wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

#2 Gabriela’s older brother, Jaime Jaquez Jr., played basketball at UCLA and now plays for the Miami Heat in the NBA. She has learned a lot by watching his calm demeanor on the court.

His advice to her? “You have to be so good that your coach can’t take you off the floor.”

#3 The LA native, recognizes the impact of having both UCLA and USC ranked in the top-10 this year. 

“I think it’s really amazing for Southern California basketball, but also women’s basketball as a whole.”

#4  She is known for being the fashionista of the team. If she could swap closets with anyone, she’d pick Hailey Bieber, Sofia Richie, and Kendall Jenner. But she has her eyes on teammate Kiki Rice’s Jordan shoe collection.

 #5 Jaquez has a strict pregame ritual routine going into games.

“I do the same things. I’m always first to sprint in line after we warm up and smile the biggest smile to my coaches.”

Watch the full conversation on the Just Women’s Sports YouTube channel.

As part of our 1-v-1 video series, UCLA’s Camryn Brown sat down to interview her teammate Charisma Osborne.

Here are five things to know from our conversation with the graduate student guard from Moreno Valley, California.

#1 When she was recruited, Charisma had offers from both USC and UCLA basketball. She ultimately chose UCLA for the program's traditions and people. But she also had one special requirement of Coach Cori during her official visit.

“The ‘In My Feelings’ dance was brand new and big. Coach Cori doesn’t really dance much. I’ve gotten her out of her comfort zone a bit. I told her she had to do the dance on my visit. And she did it! And I told her if she did it, well then, I would commit.”

#2 Charisma was projected to be a top pick in last year’s WNBA draft, but chose to come back for another year at UCLA. She said she wanted another year with family and friends.

“And obviously I came back to win a championship.”

#3 Charisma’s expectations for this year’s NCAA Women's Basketball tournament?

“I expect us to have a lot of fun. I think sometimes that gets lost when there’s so much pressure and so many things going on. But to have a lot of fun and enjoy it. And I expect us to win. We’re such a good, talented team who works hard all the time and we love each other. We have so much fun with each other. So I just expect that to keep going.”

#4 She has one pregame ritual she can’t go without.

“I drink pickle juice before the game. And I love pickle juice. People think it’s gross, but it helps!

#5 If she had to compare her game to a current WNBA player, Charisma sees the most similarities with Jewel Lloyd.

“I like her game. I like her style. We’re similar in height. She plays really good defense and she’s a bucket. Kobe was her favorite player, too. I do see the similarities.”

Watch the full conversation on the Just Women’s Sports YouTube channel.

The NCAA has signed a new 8-year, $920 million dollar media rights deal with ESPN for 40 of its NCAA championships, Front Office Sports reported on Thursday.

The deal includes the women’s March Madness tournament, which through the deal is valued at $65 million. The average payout of the deal per year sits at $115 million. That triples the price of the current package, which averages $34 million a year for 29 championships. It also rectifies the undervaluation of the women’s NCAA tournament, which was at the heart of a gender inequity report.

Working with the NCAA on the deal was Endeavor’s IMG and WME Sports.

While the number is under the estimated $81-$112 million valuation floated around about the women’s basketball tournament, it reportedly reflects the status of the market when it came time for negotiations. Karen Brodkin, EVP and Co-Head of WME Sports, noted that the market “is not like we’ve ever seen before.”

The valuation wound up being three times the previous deal, whereas other leagues have recently only gotten 1.2 or 1.3 times their valuation in recent deals. And opting to have the women’s basketball tournament remain bundled with other championships was in part to help out other, less popular championships.

“I wanted the best deal for everybody,” NCAA president Charlie Baker said.

While other networks were involved, the NCAA only spoke to ESPN during its exclusive negotiating window. Baker said that while Endeavor spoke with other networks, those conversations were “kind of all over the place.”

The deal will begin on Sept. 1 and end in 2032, corresponding with the end of the men’s tournament deal with CBS and Warner Bros. Discovery.

“We didn’t do a renewal,” EVP and Head of the Americas for Media at IMG, Hillary Mandel, told FOS. “This is a reset.”

In addition to adding 11 championships, ESPN has also committed to more investment in storytelling in the style of long-form, documentary-esque content.

The numbers are in, with the NCAA women’s basketball national championship game drawing record viewership.

The title game between LSU and Iowa drew an average of 9.9 million viewers, an increase of 103% from 2022. The 2023 final aired on ABC for the first time, while the 2022 final aired on ESPN.

With that total, LSU’s championship win stands as the most-viewed women’s college basketball game on record. At its peak, the game reached 12.6 million viewers. 

The numbers continue a trend started in previous rounds, with the Final Four also setting viewership records.

The viewership mark for the title game nearly doubles the previous record, set in the 2002 final between UConn and Oklahoma. That matchup drew 5.68 million viewers, and Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Diana Taurasi were all playing for UConn.

“When people come and watch and understand the game, they see how fun and how great the product is, and they keep coming back for more,” Iowa star Caitlin Clark said after the game Sunday. “It doesn’t surprise me.”

And to further put the viewership numbers into perspective, the ratings for the game topped several football games, any MLS game ever and every Stanley Cup game since 1973.

On top of viewership, this year’s tournament also broke attendance records. The NCAA announced that a total of 357,542 fans turned out for the entirety of the tournament, shattering the all-time record. 

“This is the game we love and seeing it get the recognition it deserves is obviously super rewarding,” Iowa center Monika Czinano said Sunday. “It’s about time women’s basketball gets this kind of viewership, and it can only go up.

“It’s only going to get more exciting and more fun. The game is evolving in such a great way. I’m glad you’re tuning in now, but keep it up.”

The LSU Tigers hoisted the 2023 NCAA championship trophy on Sunday with a 102-85 win over Iowa. On the way to victory, LSU’s Angel Reese and Alexis Morris had exceptional individual performances, earning them spots on the JWS All-NCAA Tournament Team alongside other outstanding players.

Here are my choices for the First and Second Team starting five.

All-Tournament First Team

Angel Reese, LSU

The Final Four Most Outstanding Player led LSU throughout the season and continued her dominance in the postseason. Reese had a double-double in all six tournament games, starting with a 34-point, 15-rebound performance against Hawaii in the first round. She followed that up with 25 points, 24 rebounds and six blocks against Michigan, marking the first time a player had at least 25 points, 20 rebounds and five blocks in a tournament game.

Reese’s final contest secured her MOP award. The sophomore finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals, one block and zero turnovers to lead her team to a dominant national championship victory over Iowa.

Alexis Morris, LSU

LSU’s point guard almost joined Reese in the double-double club during the championship game. She finished just one assist shy of the mark, with 21 points and nine assists. Morris scored 19 of those points in the second half to help extend LSU’s lead and end Iowa’s chances of a comeback.

Morris was also critical in LSU’s semifinal win over Virginia Tech, leading the Tigers with 27 points. It was one of three tournament games in which Morris played all 40 minutes.

Caitlin Clark, Iowa

Clark created buzz throughout March Madness, and for good reason. Not only did she set a new NCAA Tournament record — men’s or women’s — with 191 total points, but she also recorded a historic 41-point triple-double in the Elite Eight as Iowa topped Louisville.

In the next game, Clark recorded 41 points again, this time to upset the undefeated defending champion South Carolina Gamecocks. Clark continued her stat-stuffing ways by adding eight assists and six rebounds in that contest. Over the six tournament games, Clark averaged 31.8 points per game.

Georgia Amoore, Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech’s point guard also had a record-setting tournament, making an all-time high 24 3-pointers, until Clark broke the record in the title game. Amoore left an indelible mark regardless, as she led the Hokies to their first Final Four in program history. With consistent highlight-reel step-back 3s, Amoore averaged 22.6 points per game in the tournament — a 6.3-point increase from her regular-season average.

Cotie McMahon, Ohio State

Ohio State didn’t make the Final Four, but McMahon was phenomenal in her team’s four games, earning her a place on the First Team. Her best game came in a historic victory over UConn in the Sweet 16, propelling Ohio State to its first Elite Eight appearance since 1993. The freshman finished with 23 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals against the Huskies.

Zia Cooke led South Carolina with 24 points in the Final Four. (C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

All-Tournament Second Team

Zia Cooke, South Carolina

The Gamecocks point guard was solid throughout her team’s run to the Final Four and was one of the best players on the floor in the loss to Iowa. Cooke finished with 24 points and eight rebounds in that game.

Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech

Kitley was a double-double machine for Virginia Tech as the Hokies advanced to the Final Four. She recorded at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in all but one contest. And in that game — a Sweet 16 win over Tennessee — she came up just two rebounds short of recording another.

Aliyah Boston, South Carolina

Boston was a force on both ends of the court for the Gamecocks, recording at least one block in all five of South Carolina’s tournament games. The 2022 National Player of the Year’s best performance came in an Elite Eight win over Maryland, where she finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks.

Monika Czinano, Iowa

In the midst of all the hype surrounding South Carolina’s bigs, it was Czinano who dominated the paint in Iowa’s Final Four win. She finished with 18 points and went 6-for-8 from the field, continuing the efficiency she’s become known for.

Maddy Siegrist, Villanova

Siegrist led her team to a Sweet 16 appearance thanks to three-straight 30-plus point games. The senior became just the fifth women’s Division I player to score 1,000 points in a single season when she eclipsed the mark in Villanova’s first-round win over Cleveland State. Siegrist was even stellar in the Sweet 16 loss to Miami, finishing with 31 points, 13 rebounds, five steals and two assists.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

The 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament ended in an action-packed final weekend, from two thrilling semifinal matchups on Friday to LSU’s national championship win against Iowa on Sunday.

While we’re still waiting on ratings for Sunday’s title game on ABC, the rest of the tournament shattered records. The Final Four game between Iowa and South Carolina averaged 5.5 million viewers, the most for a semifinal on ESPN networks and the most-viewed college basketball game (men’s or women’s) on ESPN since 2008.

The women’s tournament is currently included in a TV deal with 28 other sports’ NCAA tournaments. But that contract with ESPN expires in 2024, and the momentum of women’s basketball could give the tournament its own TV deal in the upcoming bargaining cycle.

“I think the biggest opportunity there — and I would argue that the investments that have been made in the women’s game have had a tremendous return to the women’s game and to the players and the coaches and everybody else — is the fact that the timing on the bid associated with this is perfect,” new NCAA president Charlie Baker told reporters Saturday. “Basically, this thing is going out this year and it’s going out on the heels of what will have been the most successful tournament…

“Let’s see what the market thinks it’s worth. I think the market is going to think it’s worth a lot.”

2023 NCAA Tournament: Top storylines from March Madness

March 29 — Caitlin Clark wins Naismith Player of the Year

Iowa star Caitlin Clark beat out reigning winner Aliyah Boston for the Naismith Player of the Year award.

While leading her team to the Final Four, Clark has averaged 8.6 assists per game, which puts her first in the NCAA in that category. She also ranks first in 3-pointers per game (3.53) and triple-doubles (five this season) and third in points per game (27.3). The Hawkeyes guard is the only player in the country to average more than 20 points, five assists and five rebounds per game.

Boston may have lost the top award to Clark, but she took home the Defensive Player of the Year award for the second season in a row. The South Carolina center is ranked in the top five in the country in both offensive and defensive player rating.

Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley has been named the Naismith Coach of the Year for the second season in a row, as she has led the defending champions to an undefeated record and a third straight Final Four berth.

March 26 — Inflate-gate: LSU questions air level in basketballs

After a poor offensive showing from both teams in LSU’s 54-42 win against Miami in the Elite Eight, the third-seeded Tigers questioned the inflation levels of the basketballs.

LSU shot 30.2% from the field in their win, while Miami shot 31.6% from the field. The teams combined to go 1-for-27 from 3-point range, with that one 3-pointer coming from LSU’s Kateri Poole in the fourth quarter.

“They need to take some air out of the ball,” Poole told The Athletic. “It’s too much and I think everyone’s shot has been off lately.”

The men’s tournament has featured similar complaints about the basketballs, including from overall No. 1 seed Alabama.

“We need to check those balls out, because it’s not even fun for me to watch the men play,” LSU coach Kim Mulkey said. “I mean, knockdown shots is normal for men and they’re just rattling all over the rim.

“It’s happening to both teams, so it’s not like one team has an advantage. But I know Alexis Morris’s ball handling skill and she’d bring the ball up, and all of a sudden you’d see that thing just jump off the floor.”

March 25 — Ohio State ends drought, snaps UConn streak

The Ohio State Buckeyes defeated UConn, 73-61, to earn a spot in their first Elite Eight since 1993. With the win, Ohio State simultaneously ended UConn’s streak of consecutive NCAA Final Fours, which dated back to 2007.

March 24 — Miami, LSU, Iowa, and Louisville book tickets to Elite Eight

The first four games of the Sweet 16 were filled with plenty of drama, beginning with No. 9 Miami upsetting No. 4 Villanova. With the win, Miami becomes just the second No. 9 seed to qualify for the Elite Eight of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

March 21 — ACC and SEC lead Sweet 16 slate

The ACC and SEC each had four teams advance to the Sweet 16, tied for the most of any conference in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

While the Big Ten and Pac-12 dominated the Associated Press Top 25 poll for much of the season, each of those conferences came up just short, with three teams each in the Sweet 16. The Big East has the final two in UConn and Villanova.

LSU star Angel Reese defended the strength of her team’s conference after her Tigers won their second-round game against No. 6 seed Michigan, and then No. 8 seed Ole Miss stunned No. 1 seed Stanford.

“But the SEC was light this year???” she tweeted Sunday night during the Ole Miss victory. “OH OK.”

March 18 — Seven upsets highlight first round

Seven first-round games were won by the lower seed. No. 12 seeds Florida Gulf Coast and Toledo pulled off the biggest upsets, with FGC defeating No. 5 Washington State, 74-63, and Toledo bumping off No. 5 Iowa State, 80-73.

Here’s the full list of first round upsets:

  • No. 10 Georgia 66, No. 7 Florida State 54
  • No. 11 Mississippi State 81, No. 6 Creighton 66
  • No. 9 South Dakota State 62, No. 8 USC 57 (OT)
  • No. 10 Princeton 64, No. 7 NC State 63
  • No. 9 Miami 62, No. 8 Oklahoma State 61
  • No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast 74, No. 5 Washington State 63
  • No. 12 Toledo 80, No. 5 Iowa State 73

March 18 — Baylor records historic comeback

Baylor needed a historic comeback to emerge from the first round of the 2023 NCAA basketball tournament. Trailing by 18 points against Alabama, No. 7 seed Baylor went on to win the game, 78-74. The 18-point deficit is tied for third largest comeback in NCAA tournament history.

“Wow, we were really bad in the first quarter and really good after that,” Baylor head coach Nicki Collen said.

Two other teams managed 16-plus point comebacks Saturday, with Miami coming back from a 17-point deficit and Ohio State reversing a 16-point margin.

March 17 — Stanford’s Cameron Brink misses first round with non-COVID illness

Forward Cameron Brink sat out Stanford’s first round opener with a non-COVID illness. The Cardinal defeated No. 16 Sacred Heart, 92-49.

“Not how I expected March Madness to start but cheering my girls on today – just a stomach bug & I’ll be back asap,” Brink wrote on Instagram.

March 17 — NC State’s Diamond Johnson will miss opening weekend

NC State point guard Diamond Johnson will miss the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament due to injury, she revealed Thursday night on social media.

The junior is dealing with an ankle injury, which has kept her off the court since Feb. 16. Still, the Wolfpack had planned for her possible return, and indeed her absence at the end of the regular season was aimed at giving her enough time to recover ahead of the postseason, according to coach Wes Moore.

“I will not be playing in the NCAA Tournament this weekend and wanted to let everyone know,” Johnson wrote on Instagram. “I have been rehabbing my injury and taking it week by week, although it hasn’t been easy my support system has helped me get to this point both mentally and physically.”

No. 7 seed NC State will start its tournament run against No. 10 Princeton at 10 p.m. ET Friday at Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

March 16 — Florida State’s Ta’Niya Latson out for NCAA Tournament

Florida State will be without its leading scorer in Ta’Niya Latson for the NCAA Tournament, the team announced Thursday.

Latson missed the Seminoles’ most recent game, a loss to Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament, but Florida State has not released any information about the injury. The freshman guard led the team with 21.3 points per game this season.

Sophomore guard O’Mariah Gordon also will miss the NCAA Tournament due to injury. Gordon averaged 6.9 points per game for the Seminoles.

March 16 — Geno Auriemma: ‘If we weren’t called UConn, we’d be a No. 1’

Geno Auriemma’s UConn teams had earned a No. 1 seed in 13 of the last 15 NCAA Tournaments before this year. But the Huskies will begin this round of March Madness with a No. 2 seed.

While the team also was a No. 2 seed in 2022 and 2019 (and made it to the Final Four in each of those seasons), the legendary program is not used to playing second fiddle. And the Huskies only did not claim a top seed this year because they are being judged relative to their own high bar, Auriemma said.

“I think if we weren’t called UConn, we’d be a No. 1,” the coach said after the bracket reveal.

The Huskies have dealt with injuries, big and small, all season, which hampered their chances at a No. 1 seed. Star sophomore guard Azzi Fudd missed much of the regular season with a knee injury but returned for the Big East Tournament.

Auriemma called the No. 2 seed “expected” despite the disappointment, though he is not looking forward to the trip to Seattle for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight should his team make it that far.

March 13 — Holy Cross faces travel trouble ahead of first round

The No. 15 seed Crusaders are set to face No. 2 seed Maryland at 2:15 p.m. ET Friday at the Terrapins’ home arena in College Park — 393 miles from their home in Worcester, Mass.

Unfortunately for Holy Cross, that distance comes in just under 400 miles. The NCAA will reimburse schools for charter flights of 400 miles or more, so the Crusaders’ trip does not make the cut.

With a snowstorm expected in Massachusetts, the team could not find enough space on commercial flights, so the Crusaders may have to turn to a train or a bus, Stadium analyst Jeff Goodman reported.

Complete results from the 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament

First Four Results and Scores

  • Wednesday, March 15:
    • Mississippi State 70, Illinois 56
    • Sacred Heart 57, Southern 47
  • Thursday, March 16:
    • St. John’s 66, Purdue 64
    • Tennessee Tech 79, Monmouth 69

First Round Results and Scores

  • Friday, March 17:
    • No. 8 South Florida 67, No. 9 Marquette 65 (OT)
    • No. 7 Arizona 75, No. 10 West Virginia 62
    • No. 10 Georgia 66, No. 7 Florida State 54
    • No. 1 South Carolina 72, No. 16 Norfolk State 40
    • No. 2 Maryland 93, No. 15 Holy Cross 61
    • No. 6 Michigan 71, No. 11 UNLV 59
    • No. 3 Notre Dame 82, No. 14 Southern Utah 56
    • No. 2 Iowa 95, No. 15 Southeastern Louisiana 43
    • No. 3 LSU 73, No. 14 Hawaii 50
    • No. 1 Virginia Tech 58, No. 14 Chattanooga 33
    • No. 11 Mississippi State 81, No. 6 Creighton 66
    • No. 1 Stanford 92, No. 16 Sacred Heart 49
    • No. 2 Utah 103, No. 15 Gardner-Webb 77
    • No. 9 South Dakota State 62, No. 8 USC 57 (OT)
    • No. 10 Princeton 64, No. 7 NC State 63
    • No. 8 Ole Miss 71, No. 9 Gonzaga 48
  • Saturday, March 18:
    • No. 1 Indiana 77, No. 16 Tennessee Tech 47
    • No. 4 Tennessee 95, No. 13 Saint Louis 50
    • No. 3 Ohio State 80, No. 14 James Madison 66
    • No. 9 Miami 62, No. 8 Oklahoma State 61
    • No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast 74, No. 5 Washington State 63
    • No. 2 UConn 95, No. 15 Vermont 52
    • No. 12 Toledo 80, No. 5 Iowa State 73
    • No. 6 North Carolina 61, No. 11 St. John’s 59
    • No. 4 Villanova 76, No. 13 Cleveland State 59
    • No. 7 Baylor 78, No. 10 Alabama 74
    • No. 6 Colorado 82, No. 11 Middle Tennessee 60
    • No. 5 Louisville 83, No. 12 Drake 81
    • No. 5 Oklahoma 85, No. 12 Portland 63
    • No. 3 Duke 89, No. 14 Iona 49
    • No. 4 Texas 79, No. 13 East Carolina 40
    • No. 4 UCLA 67, No. 13 Sacramento State 45

Second Round Results and Scores

  • Sunday, March 19:
    • No. 1 South Carolina 76, No. 8 South Florida 45
    • No. 2 Iowa 74, No. 10 Georgia 66
    • No. 3 Notre Dame 53, No. 11 Mississippi State 48
    • No. 1 Virginia Tech 72, No. 9 South Dakota State 60
    • No. 2 Maryland 77, No. 7 Arizona 64
    • No. 2 Utah 63, No. 10 Princeton 56
    • No. 3 LSU 66, No. 6 Michigan 42
    • No. 8 Ole Miss 54, No. 1 Stanford 49
  • Monday, March 20:
    • No. 3 Ohio State 71, No. 6 North Carolina 69
    • No. 4 Tennessee 94, No. 12 Toledo 47
    • No. 5 Louisville 73, No. 4 Texas 51
    • No. 4 Villanova 76, No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast 57
    • No. 9 Miami 70 No. 1 Indiana 68
    • No. 6 Colorado 61, No. 3 Duke 53 (OT)
    • No. 2 UConn 77, No. 7 Baylor 58
    • No. 4 UCLA 82, No. 5 Oklahoma 73

Sweet 16 Results and Scores

  • Friday, March 24: 
    • No. 9 Miami (Fla.) 70, No. 4 Villanova 65
    • No. 3 LSU 66, No. 2 Utah 63
    • No. 2 Iowa 87, No. 6 Colorado 77
    • No. 5 Louisville 72, No. 8 Ole Miss 62
  • Saturday, March 25:
    • No. 2 Maryland 76, No. 3 Notre Dame 59
    • No.1 South Carolina 59, No. 4 UCLA 43
    • No. 3 Ohio State 73, No. 2 UConn 61
    • No. 1 Virginia Tech 73, No 4 Tennessee 64

Elite Eight Results and Scores

  • Sunday, March 26:
    • No. 3 LSU 54, No. 9 Miami 42
    • No. 2 Iowa 97, No. 5 Louisville 83
  • Monday, March 27:
    • No. 1 South Carolina 86, No. 2 Maryland 75
    • No. 1 Virginia Tech 84, No. 3 Ohio State 74

Final Four Results and Scores

  • Friday, March 31
    • No. 3 LSU 79, No. 1 Virginia Tech 72
    • No. 2 Iowa 77, No. 1 South Carolina 73
  • Sunday, April 2
    • No. 3 LSU 102, No. 2 Iowa 85

DALLAS — It was a celebration dripping in sequins.

The party started when Flau’jae Johnson ran over to the sidelines and sent a message to coach Kim Mulkey.

“You’re the GOAT!” she yelled. Then again: “You’re the GOAT!” And again. As her freshman guard shouted, Mulkey’s face wrinkled as she tried to fight back the tears pooling into her eyes.

The seconds ticked down, and Johnson couldn’t contain her excitement any longer. She ran over to Mulkey and lifted the coach off the ground, spinning her in a bear hug. Her purple uniform melded with Mulkey’s sequined, tiger-striped suit to create one blur of joy.

A season that started with criticism about a weak schedule ended in celebration on the ultimate stage. With their 102-85 win over superstar Caitlin Clark and Iowa on Sunday, the LSU Tigers were crowned national champions for the first time in program history.

Achieving that feat seemed unlikely at first, and unlikely still when the Tigers were blown out by South Carolina in the regular season, and when they lost to Tennessee in the SEC tournament.

Unlikely to outsiders, but predetermined to those within the program. Angel Reese has been talking about this since she transferred to LSU last spring. So has Kateri Poole, the friend who convinced Reese to make the campus visit when LSU wasn’t even on her radar.

“This is why I came to LSU,” Poole said after the game, with confetti swirling at her feet and her mother looking on with pure adoration in her eyes. An onlooker told Poole’s mom that she had confetti stuck in her hair; “I don’t care,” she replied with a grin.

In the background, Reese took photos with her brother, Julian. She took phones from spectators and recorded videos for them. And of course, she posed with her tiara, something that has become a staple for LSU celebrations this season.

Since the beginning of the season, the Tigers have pretended to crown Reese when she makes an exciting play or has a big game. At one point, they traded out the gesture for a real tiara. Reese, the queen of the tournament and the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Alexis Morris finished with 21 points, 19 of which came in the second half, and LaDazhia Williams had 20.

None of them, however, was LSU’s leading scorer. That came from an unlikely source — but like the title itself, only unlikely to those outside the program. Inside the Tigers’ locker room, graduate transfer Jasmine Carson is a known scorer.

“Jasmine may be the second best pure shooter that I’ve ever coached in my career,” Mulkey said. “She can just light it up.”

Carson finished with 22 points, and the Tigers needed every single one of them.

The first half was laden with whistles, and Reese spent significant time on the bench in early foul trouble. Morris also picked up two quick fouls and went into halftime with just two points. Mulkey went to her bench, and suddenly it was Carson’s moment, one the Tigers knew was coming.

Emily Ward, a senior walk-on, noticed that Carson was hot in warm-ups.

“I went up to her and I was like, ‘OK Jas, you’re going to have a big game,’” Ward said. “None of us were shocked that she was doing that. She hits them all the time in practice.”

Carson scored 21 of her 22 points in the first half, going a perfect 7-for-7 from the field and 5-for-5 from the 3-point line during the stretch. Everyone on the LSU bench celebrated. And in a concert hall in Atlanta, so did Carson’s high school coach.

Phyllis Arthur’s boyfriend surprised her with tickets to a jazz concert a few days ago, not realizing the national championship game was the same day. But she wasn’t going to miss Carson’s biggest game at LSU, so as they waited for the opening act to go on, Arthur watched the Tigers on her phone.

Every time Carson hit a shot, Arthur jumped out of her seat.

Arthur has coached girls basketball at McEachern High School for 17 years. There, she coached Carson and coached against Flau’jae Johnson, so Arthur was thrilled for both players on Sunday.

Thrilled, but not surprised.

“That’s the Jasmine I know,” she said on a phone call during intermission of the concert. “I love her shot. And when she’s on, she’s on. And she was on tonight. Thank god.”

Carson is one of several LSU transfer portal success stories. She started her career at Georgia Tech before transferring to West Virginia for two seasons and closing out her fifth year with the Tigers, averaging 8.4 points per game this season.

Carson started throughout the regular season, but when the NCAA Tournament began, Mulkey opted to bring her off the bench in favor of having bigger bodies on the court.

Still, Carson stayed ready.

So ready that she didn’t need her usual pregame routine. Morris and Carson typically get up extra shots together in warm-ups, but today, when Morris asked her if she wanted to, Carson said no.

“I’m good,” she said.

And she was. She was really, really good. She was 22 points good. She was five made 3-pointers good. She was national champion good.

Carson came off the bench to go a perfect 7-for-7 from the field in the first half. (Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

After the game, when Mulkey shuffled through the confetti barefoot, and Reese climbed a ladder to cut her piece of the net, and Johnson danced with her championship hat on her head, and Arthur cheered among a crowd of jazz fans, they all had Carson to thank.

“I didn’t have nothing to lose,” Carson said. “This was my last game of my college career, and I ended it the right way.”

She ended it as a national champion.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

Angel Reese put a stamp on LSU’s national title win Sunday with her signature ring celebration, but also one that involved Iowa star guard Caitlin Clark.

As the clock wound down on LSU’s 102-85 win over Iowa in the national championship game, Reese and Clark found themselves standing next to each other during free-throw attempts. The TV camera caught Reese calling out to Clark and waving her hand in front of her face, mimicking Clark’s “you can’t see me celebration” that went viral after Iowa’s Elite Eight win over Louisville.

Before the buzzer sounded, Reese wasn’t done trash talking. The LSU sophomore followed Clark toward the sideline and stared her down while doing the same celebration. Reese then pointed to her finger, indicating the championship ring LSU would get with the victory.

Both players set NCAA records in the national championship game. Reese had 15 points and 10 rebounds to finish with her 34th double-double of the season, the most by a player in a single season. Clark surpassed Sheryl Swoopes for the most points in an NCAA Tournament with her 180th point, registering 30 points and eight assists in the loss.

Reese and Clark, the 2023 National Player of the Year, are both known for their trash talk during games.

Reese was called for technical in a January game against Arkansas after blocking a shot while holding her shoe in one hand and standing over her opponent. In the Elite Eight, Clark was caught on camera chirping Louisville guard Hailey Van Lith, saying, “You’re down by 15 points. Shut up.”