How Caitlin Clark, Iowa used pace to wear out LSU and get their redemption in the much-anticipated rematch

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ALBANY, N.Y. — Iowa guard Caitlin Clark knocked down nine 3-pointers in the Hawkeyes’ 94-87 win over the LSU Tigers in the Elite Eight on Monday. She scored 41 points but only remembers celebrating one bucket. 

“I think I just got hyped for a second,” Clark said about her burst of emotion halfway through the fourth quarter. “I was trying to be pretty calm and cool. Like, when you’re playing a team like LSU, they’re never out of the game … and that’s exactly what they did. But sometimes you get a little hype for yourself and you do things that you don’t even realize you’re doing. I think that was the only three I celebrated.” 

Despite the hype about the trash talk there might be between Clark and LSU forward Angel Reese, it was a tame yet intense matchup. According to Reese, the officials spoke to the players before the game. 

“They told us that they’d be calling technical fouls if we talk to other teams,” Reese said in a subdued LSU locker room shortly after the loss. CBS Sports asked Iowa coach Lisa Bluder if she was aware of any directives regarding trash talk, she did not. 

Whether the officials or the urgency of the game were the cause, the matchup displayed the immense skill of Reese, who ended the night with 20 rebounds and Clark, who recorded 12 assists alongside her 41 points. The points are nothing new for Clark, who shot 13-of-29 from the floor and 9-for-20 from the perimeter. 

Efficiency wasn’t quite the name of the game, but Clark and Iowa did exactly what they needed to do to win. Plainly put, the Hawkeyes wore LSU down early and the Tigers never recovered. Iowa established an eight-point lead within the first three minutes of the game. The Hawkeyes then put together their biggest scoring run in the third period. 

“In talking to my team, we played to their pace. We ended the first quarter with the lead, but I think their pace dictated that third quarter. I think it really hit us in the third quarter, that pace,” Mulkey said Monday night. 

LSU drew even with Iowa heading into halftime and outscored their opponent in the final 10 minutes, but another the eight-point run in the third by the Hawkeyes was too much for the Tigers to overcome. 

Bluder knew that for her team to be successful against LSU, she had to get Clark moving downhill — not only to get her to the foul line, but also to break down opposing team’s defense. 

Mission accomplished. 

Clark effectively opened up the court for her teammates by keeping the LSU defense on its toes. Kate Martin (21 points) and Sydney Affolter (16) were huge for the Hawkeyes in the third, their best period. Ten of Martin’s 21 points came in the third quarter. 

With Iowa controlling the gas pedal, LSU’s best hope was to expose the advantage in the paint. The Tigers outrebounded the Hawkeyes 23-6 on the offensive boards and won the battle in the paint 44-to-36. However, Reese turning her ankle and the fouling out late in the fourth quarter may have impacted the game plan. 

“Yeah, I did roll my ankle on one of the cameras,” Reese said also confirming her ankle has been bothering her throughout the season. “But I played through it, and I’m not going to make that excuse for the rest of my play for the game.” 

Overall, the rematch between LSU and Iowa was a different game than last season, but just as exciting. And only time will tell whether Clark and Reese will once again skyrocket viewership numbers. 

“I can’t describe to you how good it is right now in women’s basketball. That’s why I wished this game could have been at the Final Four. Wow. Sure was good for an Elite Eight game,” Mulkey said. “We’re proud to be a part of that.”

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