Put a Ring on It

Angel Reese and LSU have won their first national championship.

By Elisha Gunaratnam

After Sa’Myah Smith drew a ring on Angel Reese’s finger right before LSU advanced to the Final Four, many fans thought that the move would backfire on her. On Sunday, Reese got to prove them wrong.

LSU has been proving their naysayers wrong all season. When they were undefeated and blowing out teams by double digits, people said that it was because they had an easy schedule. LSU let their game do the talking, and went 15–1 in the SEC. When they were ranked No. 3 going into the NCAA Tournament, they were undeterred and remained confident that they could win a national championship. 

Before Sunday’s clash between Iowa and LSU, Caitlin Clark was the talk of the tournament. Clark had just come off of two 41-point performances—including one triple-double—and the feeling was that the Hawkeyes could count on her to do what was needed to win them the game. 

LSU was not willing to let that happen. Yes, Clark still looked really good from the floor and hit some jaw-dropping three-pointers to keep the game competitive during the third quarter, but the Tigers made sure that she wasn’t the star of the show. In fact, at times LSU looked like they were beating Clark at her own game. They shot 64.7% from beyond the arc, and Jasmine Carson, who had 11 points in the first five games of the tournament, went 5-6 from deep and finished the game with a team-high 22 points.

After the game, Carson said, “They didn’t want to guard us on the perimeter, and I’m a shooter, so I took that personally.” Even before the game, several LSU players seemed to take offense with the Hawkeyes’ defensive strategy. Iowa waved off several of South Carolina’s shooters during their Final Four matchup, and made it a point to not let the Gamecocks get buckets in the paint. Since the Tigers had only made 19.7% of their three-pointers in the games leading up to Sunday, it made sense that the Hawkeyes would try the same strategy—except this time it didn’t work. 

It wasn’t just LSU’s three-point shooting that blew up Iowa’s game plan; the Tigers simply looked better from everywhere on the floor. Reese was finishing through contact right from the onset of the game, and LaDazhia WIlliams and Alexis Morris worked their way through the paint with ease. Once Monika Czinano got into foul trouble, LSU took over the game. 

LSU’s Angel Reese reacts in front of Iowa’s Caitlin Clark during the second half of the NCAA Women’s Final Four championship basketball game Sunday, April 2, 2023, in Dallas. LSU won 102-85 to win the championship. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Their 102-point performance broke the record for points scored in an NCAA Tournament final. It was also the fifth time that the Tigers scored more than 100 points this season. LSU proved it could deliver when it mattered, and Kim Mulkey kept the promise she made to LSU fans when she first arrived on campus—that she would win them their first NCAA championship. With almost every player on the roster returning for the 2023-2024 season and the possibility of adding more players through the transfer portal, LSU’s not going anywhere. It’s not just South Carolina, UConn, and Stanford’s trophy to lose anymore; the Tigers have put themselves on the map.

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