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LSU Women’s Basketball Advances To National Championship, 79-72

LSU will play for a national championship in basketball for the first time in program history. The women’s program had previously reached five consecutive women’s Final Fours from 2004-08, but the Tigers never advanced past the national semifinal – until now.

The Tigers will face No. 2 Iowa for the national championship, as the Hawkeyes knocked off No. 1 South Carolina late Friday, 77-73. LSU and Iowa have met three times in women’s basketball history, most recently on Nov. 25, 1990. 

Sunday’s National Championship will air on ABC at 3:30 p.m. CT. The Women’s Basketball program will look to capture LSU’s 50th national championship as an athletics department.

An unbelievably dominant fourth quarter powered the Tigers to victory on Friday. LSU outscored Virginia Tech 29-13 in the final frame to come-from-behind and secure a seven-point win. The Tigers were led by and fifth-year senior Alexis Morris and sophomore forward Angel Reese, who scored 27 points and 24 points, respectively. 

Elizabeth Kitley led the Hokies with 18 points and 12 rebounds, the only other player on the floor to capture a double-double alongside Reese. Virginia Tech also finished with two other players in double figures as Kayana Traylor and Georgia Amoore both tallied 17 points.

In just her second season in Baton Rouge, Mulkey will serve as the head coach in a National Championship game for the fourth time in her career. She has won every such game she has coached, winning NCAA Championships at Baylor in 2005, 2012 and 2019. She will look to become the first NCAA DI Women’s Basketball Coach with NCAA Championships at multiple schools. Mulkey is already the first person – men’s or women’s – with NCAA DI Championships as a player, assistant coach and head coach. 

“I came home for lots of reasons, one to someday hang a championship banner in the PMAC,” Mulkey said. “Never, ever do you think you’re going to do something like this in two years.”

This group has pieced it together in Coach Mulkey’s second year at LSU, going to the national championship with nine new pieces (four freshmen and five transfers) and only one returning contributor in Alexis Morris.

One of those pieces was her star transfer Reese, who had another record breaking performance scoring 24 points and hauling in 12 rebounds to lead her team to the Championship in her first year as a Tiger. Reese’s double-double was her 33rd of the season and ties the NCAA record for the most double-doubles in a single season. 

The Baltimore native also broke two rebounding records with her 12 boards, totaling 545 rebounds this season to break the all-time record for most rebounds in a single season for both LSU and in the entire Southeastern Conference (SEC). 

“It’s like a dream,” Reese said. “I’m just not even believing this right now. It’s crazy how much my life has changed in a year. We believed in each other more than anybody else.”

The story continues to be written on Morris, who looked right at home on Friday, fulfilling her dream of ending her senior night in Dallas. The Beaumont, Texas native will play the last college basketball game of her lengthy career in her home state after leading LSU with 12 points in the first half and finishing the night with 27.

When Mulkey decided to return home to Louisiana, one of the biggest reasons was to hang a banner in the PMAC one day. Never, ever, Mulkey says, do you think you’re going to have the opportunity to do so in Year 2. And even with all the basketball history in Baton Rouge, this team stands in a league of their own.

“It’s crazy that I’m sitting up here,” Mulkey said. “It’s crazy we’re getting ready to play for a national championship. I keep wanting to call somebody to say ‘tell me how we did this in two years.’ Nine new pieces.”

Source: LSU Sport