Some teams play with grit and determination. Some teams play with a little swagger. The Louisiana State University Women’s basketball team plays with it all. From their star player Angel Reese to their role players like Jasmine Carson, this team was bound for something special. Every single player under LSU Head Coach Kim Mulkey got their job done on Sunday, April 2 and became national champions in the process.

Squaring off against Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes is no easy feat — Clark has been one of the most electrifying players in college basketball this year and was coming off back-to-back 41-point performances entering the game. The script for NCAA Player of the Year Clark to win it all seemed perfect. However, the Tigers from Baton Rouge had not backed down to any player or team this season, and they were not about to start against Clark and the Hawkeyes. 

When the highly anticipated game finally started, the main focus was not on the players as much as it was on the referees. Multiple players from both teams got into early foul trouble — Reese and LaDazhia Williams for the Tigers and Clarke and Monika Czinano for the Hawkeyes. This raised serious tension among the coaching staff and the officials — coach Mulkey, who was sporting a sequined tiger print pantsuit, made her displeasure very known from the Tigers’ bench. 

So with some of the major names of the game already in foul trouble, the opportunity for an unsung hero to step up was ripe for the picking. LSU guard Jasmine Carson heard the call and stole the show — Carson was on fire from behind the arc. Clark, known for her ability to shoot the long ball, could only stare in awe as Carson put on a shooting clinic at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. In the opening 20 minutes, Carson scored 21 points, going 7-7 from the field and 5-5 from the three. 

The game did not really open up until the second quarter when the Tigers started to pull away for good. They entered halftime leading by 17 points, 42-59. Even though there had never been a comeback from being down this much, Clark had been breaking records all season. As the third quarter got underway, it looked like the Hawkeyes had found their rhythm, mounting a 12-0 run halfway through the third. Big-time shots from Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall gave the Hawkeyes a glimpse of hope. After cutting the lead significantly, Iowa needed a game-saving play to change the tide but the play never came. 

Reese’s dominance was too much, and her presence in the paint caused serious problems for the Hawkeyes’ centers. From offensive to defensive rebounds, there was no stopping Reese on the boards. With her 15 point and 10 rebound performance, Reese broke the record for most double-doubles in a single season with 34.

The fourth and final quarter seemed to be a tease for Hawkeye fans. As soon as there was a good shot or strong defensive performance by Iowa, LSU would put their foot down and stop the run. 

Aside from Carson and Reese, Williams and Alexis Morris scored 20 and 21 points respectively. Clark notched 30 points with eight assists in the Hawkeyes’ losing effort. 

As time wound down and reality set in, Mulkey began to understand the moment:  winning her fourth National Championship and becoming the first coach to do it with two different programs. Confetti rained down on the Tigers and “L-S-U” chants began to fill the arena.

Before celebrating with her team, Reese made it a point to give Clark the “you can’t see me” taunt. In an interview after the game Reese said, “Caitlin Clark is a hell of a player for sure, but I don’t take disrespect lightly, and she disrespected Alexis [Morris] and my girls. South Carolina, they’re still my SEC girls too, and you’re not gonna disrespect them either.” 

While some may criticize this reaction and say that it was a low blow by Reese, this is how she has played the entire season; she puts her heart and body on the line, and she is an emotional player. However, no matter what people may argue, the trophy and the rings are headed to Baton Rouge.