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Women’s Tournament 2023: Championship Preview after Final Four Scores

Women’s Tournament 2023: Championship Preview after Final Four Scores

DALLAS, TEXAS - MARCH 31: Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes reacts after a three point basket during the fourth quarter against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the 2023 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal game at American Airlines Center on March 31, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A phenomenal pair of Final Four matchups has resulted in LSU and Iowa earning berths to the NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament championship game on Sunday at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

LSU outscored Virginia Tech 29-13 in the fourth quarter to turn a 59-50 deficit into a 79-72 win behind 27 points from Alexis Morris and a 24-point, 12-rebound outing from Angel Reese.

Meanwhile, the Caitlin Clark Show has rolled on after the superstar guard posted 41 points, eight assists and six rebounds in Iowa’s 77-73 upset win over reigning national champion and previously undefeated South Carolina.

Clark scored or assisted on every single point in the fourth quarter, and she is the first person to score 40 or more points in back-to-back games in the tournament. Her 41 points were the most in a national semifinal in men’s or women’s tourney history.

Now LSU and Iowa will square off in an intriguing matchup featuring the game’s greatest player in Clark, a megastar in her own right in Reese and a host of other talented players who have shone in March.

The Lady Tigers are great on both ends. LSU is fourth in both offensive and defensive efficiency this season, per Sports Reference.

The Lady Tigers are led by Reese, a 6’3″ forward who has posted 23.2 points and 15.7 rebounds per game, which ranks second in Division I.

She has been nothing short of dominant all season, and that continued Friday with a 24-point, 12-rebound, three-steal outing.

In theory, LSU’s size and rebounding ability should cause problems for Iowa, even though the Hawkeyes were able to overcome that Friday (more on that in a second). LaDazhia Williams, a 6’4″ forward, averages 6.0 boards per game and should present issues down low as well.

Scoring shouldn’t be a problem if Morris, LSU’s second-leading scorer, keeps it rolling.

The senior guard isn’t leaving the floor these days either, sitting just one minute over the last four games. On Friday, Morris scored 10 of her 27 points in the fourth quarter.

Morris has been sensational in the last two games, posting 21 points and four steals in a 54-42 win over Miami in the Elite Eight.

The X-factor for LSU here is first-year guard Flau’jae Johnson.

This has been a tournament to forget for Johnson, who has shot just 9-of-39 from the field in five games.

However, Johnson entered Friday shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 33.7 from deep, and she’s had some monster performances for LSU, including a 26-point game against Kentucky and a 27-point, 10-rebound, six-steal outing against Northwestern State in the regular season. If she gets going on Sunday, then LSU could win this running away.

On paper, LSU can crush Iowa on the boards and overpower the Hawkeyes.

Herein lies the problem: South Carolina out-rebounded Iowa 49-25. But it didn’t matter because Clark was tremendous and the Iowa defense held USC to 39.0 percent shooting and 4-of-20 from three-point range.

Iowa’s defense hasn’t been good this year (207th in defensive rating, per Sports Reference), but it doesn’t have to be great when the team sports the No. 2 offense. The offense has the potential to overpower any defensive or rebounding/size deficiencies it faces against other elite teams.

Clark has received most of the attention and rightfully so, but Iowa forward Monika Czinano has been amazing in her own right. Despite sitting some in the second half Friday with foul trouble, she finished with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting along with three steals. The Clark-Czinano connection is a serious problem for all teams.

The X-factors here are a trio of good three-point shooters who can get hot and change the game on a dime in McKenna Warnock, Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall.

Iowa didn’t need the three-ball to fall much Friday (7-of-23, with Clark going 5-of-17), but that’s been a weapon for the Hawkeyes at multiple points in March.

Marshall had five of them in a gutty 74-66 win over Georgia in the second round. Marshall and Warnock each had three against Louisville in the 97-83 Elite Eight victory.

Overall, the LSU-Iowa matchup looks like it’ll be a closely contested game. Perhaps Clark will put a bow on her historical run with a national title, or maybe the double-double machine in Reese will be too much for Iowa down low.

Ultimately, this has the potential to be an instant classic. The game will air on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET. ABC will televise the final.

Watch March Madness Live to stream every tournament game through the Final Four.

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