LSU cut down the nets at the end of March Madness, but the games also gave us smaller, individual victories as players improved their WNBA draft stock throughout the NCAA Tournament.

As WNBA teams prepare to make their selections Monday night in New York City, here are four players who could move up the draft board thanks to their tournament performances.

Alexis Morris, PG, LSU

The biggest knock on Morris’ game is that she is undersized at 5-foot-6. But in March, the point guard led her team to a national championship and proved she can match up with bigger guards along the way.

“She played well throughout the tournament, and at times she carried LSU,” Atlanta Dream coach Tanisha Wright said on a pre-draft media call Thursday. Wright’s Dream have two picks in the first round Monday night, including the No. 6 selection.

“She is somebody who got significantly better throughout the season.”

Morris stepped up when LSU needed her most, finishing with 15 points, seven assists and four rebounds to help the Tigers escape Utah in the Sweet 16. She then scored 27 points against Virginia Tech in the Final Four, and finished with 21 points and nine assists as LSU topped Iowa in the championship game.

Another stat that WNBA coaches and executives will love: Morris had a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio throughout the tournament. She’s a reliable decision-maker who excels in the midrange after she beats defenders off the dribble.

Zia Cooke, G, South Carolina

Playing for a team as stacked as South Carolina was this season, it can be hard to excel, but Cooke managed the feat throughout her career and particularly during the Gamecocks’ March Madness run this year. She finished with 18 points and eight rebounds to help the Gamecocks advance past Maryland in the Elite Eight.

In a disappointing loss to Iowa in the Final Four, Cooke kept her team in the game, finishing with 24 points and eight rebounds. Iowa packed the paint and made it difficult for the South Carolina guards to attack, but Cooke was able to navigate the defense, a feat that didn’t go unnoticed by WNBA coaches and executives.

“In the last month and a half, she really showed up for them and progressed through the tournament as well,” Wright said.

Jordan Horston, G, Tennessee

Horston was already an attractive prospect to WNBA teams because of her build. At 6-2, the guard is long and athletic, making her an asset on both ends of the floor. Tennessee clearly felt her absence due to injury during last year’s NCAA Tournament, and this time around, her importance to the Vols was on full display.

She led Tennessee to a Sweet 16 with three complete performances. In the first round, Horston had 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals. She followed that up with 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals against Toledo, in a game where she only logged 18 minutes. Horston was solid once more during Tennessee’s Sweet 16 loss to Virginia Tech, registering 17 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.

(Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

While she’ll need to clean up her turnovers, after averaging 4.5 per game this season and committing seven in the Sweet 16, Horston’s ability to impact the game in multiple ways is a good sign for her future in a league that values versatility.

“She demonstrated that she will be a really great fit for whatever team drafts her,” said Dallas Wings president Greg Bibb.

Monika Czinano, F, Iowa

Iowa’s fifth-year post player doesn’t necessarily fit today’s mold of a WNBA player. There is less room for traditional, back-to-the-basket post players as the WNBA moves toward positionless basketball, but Czinano has the potential to make an impact because her specialized skills are elite. She doesn’t do a little bit of everything, but she excels at her strengths.

“I’m a big Monika fan,” said Indiana Fever GM Lin Dunn. “She has no fear, she’s physical, strong, and high energy. The only thing for Monika is she needs to get selected by the right team.”

Czinano was one of the most efficient players in college basketball this season, shooting 67.4 percent from the field. She maintained that efficiency against top competition, including when matched up against 6-5 Aliyah Boston and 6-7 Kamilla Cardoso from South Carolina. Czinano had 18 points in their Final Four matchup, going 6-for-8 from the field and 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.

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

LSU women’s basketball fans came out in force for Wednesday’s national championship parade, and Kim Mulkey dressed for the occasion.

The head coach turned heads with her style throughout her team’s NCAA Tournament run, and she continued her fashion show at the celebration. Sure, she donned the traditional championship T-shirt and hat, but she also wore a purple sequined blazer decorated with sequined tiger heads.

Still, Mulkey is clear: Her outfits may be attention-grabbing, but she wants the main focus to remain on the court, where her team claimed LSU’s first basketball title in just her second year at the helm of the program.

“Basketball is the most important part — much more important than what I wear,” Mulkey told The Advocate. “Yes, my outfits are a little bit more sparkly, but I want to talk about the product on the floor — basketball.”

Jennifer Roberts — LSU’s director of player personnel and influence, and the one who coordinates Mulkey’s looks — acknowledged the fun that fans have had following Mulkey’s fashion journey.

“The LSU fan base, they love it. It’s the culture here — big, loud, fun, happy, all the things,” Roberts said. “They do everything big. … I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘We come to the games to see what Kim’s going to wear.'”

National Championship

For the 102-85 title win Sunday against No. 2 seed Iowa, Mulkey wore a pink-and-gold sequined suit with purple stripes, an homage to her team’s mascot.

(Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Final Four

The Final Four brought a bright pink blazer bedecked with large fabric flowers — as well as a 79-72 win for No. 3 seed LSU over No. 1 seed Virginia Tech.

(Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Elite Eight

She wore a dazzling rainbow blazer for the 54-42 win over No. 9 seed Miami in the Elite Eight, from the aptly named Louisiana fashion company Queen of Sparkles.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Sweet 16

A Neubyrne blazer with neon pink feathers running down each sleeve made Mulkey a presence on the sideline as LSU claimed a 66-63 win over No. 2 seed Utah, the team’s closest margin of victory throughout the title run.


Round of 32

The coach led the Tigers to a 66-42 win over No. 6 seed Michigan in a polka-dotted look some compared to Cruella de Vil.

(Rebecca Warren/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Round of 64

She kicked off the tournament with a green-lettered “Kiss Me I’m a Queen” sweater in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. On the holiday, LSU claimed a dominant 73-50 win over No. 14 seed Hawaii.

(Stephen Lew/USA TODAY Sports)

Ashley Owusu came to the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team as a star transfer. But almost a year after she entered the portal, her season ended in infighting with her Hokies teammates and with Owusu reentering the transfer portal.

How did the once-promising partnership reach the breaking point? Just Women’s Sports presents a timeline of Owusu’s year with Virginia Tech, from her transfer announcement to the social media stir after Friday night’s Final Four loss to LSU.

April 5, 2022

The 6-0 guard announced via Twitter her decision to leave Maryland after three seasons.

“Unfortunately, events that have transpired on and off the court this year have led me to the very difficult but necessary decision to continue my education and basketball career elsewhere,” she wrote.

After her sophomore season with the Terrapins, she won the Ann Meyers Drysdale award as the top shooting guard in the country, which Iowa’s Caitlin Clark has won this season. In her junior season, she averaged 14.3 points and 3.7 assists per game. But she elected to spend her senior season elsewhere.

April 30, 2022

“Wassup Hokie Nation,” Owusu wrote in an Instagram post, revealing her destination for the 2022-23 season.

She joined Virginia Tech as one of the top transfers of the offseason. “I love it here,” she tweeted on July 3, and she echoed the same sentiment on Instagram with a video of herself practicing with her new team.

Nov. 7, 2022

In her first game for Virginia Tech, Owusu featured in the starting lineup, posted 9 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds in 28 minutes in a 101-45 win against Mount St. Mary’s.

Nov. 27, 2022

The senior guard scored a season-high 21 points in 26 minutes in Virginia Tech’s 89-28 win against Longwood.

Dec. 1, 2022

Owusu broke her pinkie finger in the first quarter of the Hokies’ 85-54 win against Nebraska. She had started the first seven games of the year for her new squad, but the injury and subsequent surgery kept her out of the lineup for the next seven weeks.

“Very unselfish — she never really tried to go outside of what we were doing, just trying to figure it out,” Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks told ESPN in December following the injury. “She had some games where she was a little bit in a lull because she was trying to figure it out, and then you kind of see — unfortunately for us — right before she got hurt, she was starting to figure it out.

“I thought she was going to get on a roll and then she gets hurt.”

Jan. 19, 2023

In her first game back from her injury, Owusu played 21 minutes of the bench, scoring 5 points on 2-for-8 shooting. She did not play as many as 20 minutes again for the rest of the season.

Feb. 26, 2023

In Virginia Tech’s regular-season finale, a 65-52 win against Georgia Tech, Owusu played just five minutes and did not score. She would not play again for the Hokies, remaining on the bench for the entire postseason.

Two days before this game, she tweeted “freee meee” in response to a video of her playing for Maryland.

March 3, 2023

The Hokies played their first game of the ACC Tournament, but Owusu did not appear in the 68-42 win against Miami. When asked after the game what she needs to do to get back on the court, she redirected the question to Brooks.

“I’m not sure,” she said. “You’ll have to ask him.”

Virginia Tech went on to win the tournament title, but Owusu did not play in any of the three games.

Brooks told The Roanoke Times that his team found its identity while Owusu was working her way back from injury.

“Everybody can just look and see and tell that we’ve got things going in a tremendous direction,” Brooks said. “[The injury] was an unfair situation — not only for her but for us because it usually takes transfers a little while to get used to your system. And the time they’re usually getting used to it, she was out.

“During that time, we formed a different identity — one that probably would’ve been different if she were healthy and playing.”

March 31, 2023

No. 1 seed Virginia Tech made a historic run to the first Final Four in school history. During the semifinal contest, a fierce battle with No. 3 seed LSU, Owusu sat on the bench with her team in the first half but did not return to the bench after halftime in the eventual loss.

The team said Owusu “was not feeling well,” The Next’s Mitchell Northam reported. But in response to a tweet asking after Owusu’s whereabouts, teammate Kayana Traylor tweeted, “hmm idk check the lsu bench.” Traylor’s post was retweeted by several teammates, including Elizabeth Kitley and Taylor Soule.

Ashley’s father Emmanuel Owusu responded to Traylor’s tweet, writing: “Maybe you should the truth about how he hasn’t spoken to several kids in the team for months. How about the special group chat the coach has with 7 of the kids.”

Owusu’s former Maryland teammate Angel Reese, who now stars for LSU, tweeted after the game, “FREE MY DAWG @Ashleyyowusu15,” to which Virginia Tech guard Cayla King replied, “She’s been free.”

Brooks and his players were not asked about the apparent tension between Owusu and her teammates at the postgame press conference, though simmering tempers seemed to boil over on Twitter in the aftermath of the loss.

April 4, 2023

Owusu entered the transfer portal after the end of the season, Virginia Tech confirmed to ESPN. She has one year of COVID-19 eligibility remaining.

Her decision to enter the portal represents a reversal from her stance in early March, when she told The Next she planned to go pro rather than return for a fifth year.

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.”

First Lady Jill Biden wants to invite the Iowa women’s basketball team to the White House in addition to national champion LSU.

Biden attended Sunday’s game in Dallas, then spoke Monday at the Colorado Capitol in Denver.

“I know we’ll have the champions come to the White House, we always do. So, we hope LSU will come,” she said. “But, you know, I’m going to tell Joe I think Iowa should come, too, because they played such a good game.”

Angel Reese, who was named the most outstanding player of the Final Four, took issue with Biden’s suggestion on Twitter, calling it “a joke.” She was backed up by many others in sports and sports media, including A’ja Wilson and Stephen A. Smith.

“Hey @Reese10Angel, I mean absolutely zero disrespect to the First Lady, but you are 1000% correct,” Smith wrote. “That is a bad suggestion. Runners-up don’t get invited to the White House. Why are we trying to change it now? I completely agree with you, Angel.”

Washington Mystics guard Kristi Toliver also agreed with Reese.

Biden’s press secretary later clarified the First Lady’s comments, saying Tuesday in a tweet: “Her comments in Colorado were intended to applaud the historic game and all women athletes. She looks forward to celebrating the LSU Tigers on their championship win at the White House.”

As for Iowa’s part, Hawkeyes star Caitlin Clark thanked Biden for attending the game, but she agreed that the honor White House visit should belong to LSU alone.

“I don’t think runner-ups usually go to the White House,” Clark said. “I think LSU should enjoy that moment for them. ”

LSU coach Kim Mulkey said she would go to the White House if her team was invited.

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.

Caitlin Clark’s ability to score points knows no bounds, as she showed throughout the NCAA Tournament — even in Iowa’s 104-85 loss to LSU in Sunday’s championship game.

In the defeat, Clark put up a game-high 30 points and a team-high eight assists despite logging four personal fouls. She also knocked down a title game-record eight 3-pointers and broke the record for the most points scored in a single NCAA Tournament, women’s or men’s.

Not only did the Hawkeyes junior turn in astounding performance after astounding performance, but she seemed to get better as the tournament progressed. She put up 26 points against Southeast Louisiana, followed by a tournament-low 22 points in the second round. After that, she hit 31-41-41-30 to finish off the tournament for a record total of 191 points.

She also dished out 60 assists, the record for the women’s tournament and one shy of the overall mark of 61 set by UNLV’s Mark Wade in 1987. With her points and assists, she had a hand in 63% of Iowa’s points in the tournament run.

In total, Clark set four tournament records:

  • Most 3-pointers in the NCAA women’s tournament final with eight
  • Most 3-pointers in a single NCAA women’s tournament with 32
  • Most points scored in a single NCAA tournament with 191

As for what Clark will take away from this historic run, she hopes she left a legacy behind for those that come after her, she said after Sunday’s loss.

“I think the biggest thing is it’s really, really special. I don’t think it’s going to set in for me for quite some time,” she said. “I want my legacy to be the impact that I can have on young kids and the people in the state of Iowa, and I hope I brought them a lot of joy this season. I hope this team brought them a lot of joy. I understand we came up one win short, but I think we have a lot to be proud of and a lot to celebrate.

“I was just that young girl, so all you have to do is dream, and you can be in moments like this.”

South Carolina star Aliyah Boston is calling out racist comments made about her team following the Gamecocks’ Final Four loss to Iowa. 

After Friday’s defeat, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley pushed back against the negative perceptions of her players’ on-court physicality.

“We’re not bar fighters. We’re not thugs. We’re not monkeys. We’re not street fighters,” she said. “This team exemplifies how you need to approach basketball on the court and off the court. And I do think that that’s sometimes brought into the game, and it hurts.”

Staley added that a number of media members were “overheard talking about our team” while at an event near the arena on Thursday. 

Her star player further addressed such comments about the Gamecocks, including those that came online after the game.

“There should be no reason for the racists/disrespectful/hurtful comments that people are saying about this team,” Boston wrote on her Twitter account. “It’s important to remember that God is watching and even a computer screen won’t help. I don’t want to hear that this happens to everyone because we know it doesn’t.”

South Carolina freshman Raven Johnson also added her voice after LSU’s win against Iowa in the national championship game.

“Way to win the bar fight!!!!” she tweeted to LSU senior Alexis Morris after the Tigers’ win.

Angel Reese will not back down.

She showed that on the court in LSU’s national championship win Sunday, and she showed that after the game in her response to the social media furor resulting from her on-court celebration.

As the clock wound down on LSU’s 102-85 win over Iowa, Reese called out to Iowa star Caitlin Clark and waved her hand in front of her face, mimicking Clark’s own gesture from earlier in the tournament. While social media critics were quick to jump on Reese, she offered a confident response on her own social media accounts and in the postgame press conference.

“All year, I was critiqued about who I was,” Reese said. “I don’t fit the narrative. I don’t fit in a box that y’all want me to be in. I’m too hood. I’m too ghetto. Y’all told me that all year.

“But when other people do it, y’all say nothing. So this was for the girls that look like me, that’s going to speak up on what they believe in. It’s unapologetically you. That’s what I did it for tonight. It was bigger than me tonight. It was bigger than me.

“Twitter is going to go on a rage every time, and I’m happy. I feel like I’ve helped grow women’s basketball this year. I’m super happy and excited. So I’m looking forward to celebrating in the next season.”

WNBA star Natasha Cloud pointed out the loaded undercurrent of the vitriol directed at Reese, especially as Clark did not receive the same volume of criticism for her similar gesture in the Elite Eight. Her comments echo those of South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, who defended her players after a Final Four loss to Iowa.

“White players are ‘passionate’ and ‘competitive,'” Cloud wrote. “Black players are ‘classless’ ‘thugs.’ It’s reckless narratives that continue to divide us.”

Another WNBA player in Diamond DeShields complimented Reese for how she handled herself, writing: “Angel represents the generation of young athletes who don’t care what nobody talkin’ bout.”

Reese retweeted DeShields and added her own comment, reinforcing her status as unbothered by her critics.

Reese also retweeted others who had taken to Twitter to defend her, including NBA star LeBron James.

One of the officials from the NCAA women’s basketball championship game defended the the technical foul called on Iowa star Caitlin Clark late in the third quarter.

The call came as Iowa looked to mount a comeback against LSU, an effort that fell short in the Hawkeyes’ 102-85 loss. Clark picked up the technical (and her fourth personal foul) when she tossed the game ball out of bounds after a play.

The decision to call a technical foul on the play baffled analysts and fans alike. In a statement after the game, referee Lisa Jones said the technical came after Iowa was given a delay-of-game warning for a previous incident. 

As a result, Clark received the foul when she “picked up the ball and failed to immediately pass the ball to the nearest official after the whistle was blown,” Jones said.

She cited Rule 4, Section 9, Article 1F of the rulebook, which reads that a player can be assessed a foul for “attempting to gain an advantage by interfering with the ball after a goal or by failing to immediately pass the ball to the nearest official after a whistle is blown.”

In the same section, the rulebook states that “one team warning shall be given for each of the delays in Rule 4-9.1.d through g.”

“Thereafter, a technical foul shall be assessed for the delay that has previously received a team warning,” it reads.