On Apr. 2, the Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 102-85 in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Women’s National Championship in Dallas, Texas. The tournament was a monumental event, setting numerous records and achievements. The game awarded LSU their first NCAA championship win and head coach Kim Mulkey with her fourth national championship win. The teams scored the most points in a women’s basketball NCAA championship, as well as most points scored in one half in a women’s championship: 59. After the game, Mulkey told ESPN, “Coaches coach a lifetime and this is the fourth time I’ve been blessed.”
A star player throughout the March Madness tournament was Iowa’s Caitlin Clark. Although she could not secure the win for her team, the 21-year-old junior scored an impressive 30 points in the championship game. Throughout the tournament, she broke many records, such as the first player to have consecutive 40-point games, the most made three-pointers in an NCAA championship game (8), and the most points scored in the NCAA tournament (191). After Iowa’s defeat in the championship game, a grateful Clark said, “I want my legacy to be the impact that I can have on young kids and the people in the state of Iowa, and I hope I brought them a lot of joy this season. I hope this team brought them a lot of joy.”
Clark led Iowa to an unbelievable 77-73 win against top seed South Carolina in the Final Four, achieving a 41-point triple double. The shifty guard was an unstoppable threat, driving through screens for layups, pulling up for threes in her defenders’ faces, and displaying her elite passing ability. The game ended in an unexpected series of events. In the last 30 seconds, Clark missed a 3-pointer. Despite their rebounding advantage, South Carolina failed to get the rebound. Instead, Iowa’s McKenna Warnock grabbed the ball. With 21 seconds left, South Carolina fouled, ending the game 77-73. Iowa’s win robbed South Carolina of their undefeated 36-0 record, stunning viewers.
Another major player was LSU’s Angel Reese. The 20-year-old sophomore led a fantastic game in the Final Four against the Virginia Tech Hokies, getting crafty under the basket and spinning past defenders. Reese contributed 24 points and 12 rebounds in their 79-72 triumph. Throughout the tournament, she averaged 21.3 points and 15.2 rebounds. Additionally, she holds the most double-doubles in a season with 34. Following the championship win, the NCAA awarded her Most Outstanding Player.
The 2023 March Madness brought in masses of viewers for women’s basketball. The final averaged 9.92 million viewers, peaking at 12.6 million viewers, making it the most watched women’s basketball game in history. This number blew the previous record of 5.7 million, which occurred during the 2002 Connecticut vs. Oklahoma final, out of the water. Overall, the 2023 Women’s March Madness was a spectacular feat for women’s basketball.
(Sources: CNN, Bleacher Report, ESPN)