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Iowa Hawkeyes Enter the Final 4 With Win Over LSU, Caitlin Clark Shines With Star Performance

Caitlin Clark (Via Getty Images)

In a highly anticipated match, reminiscent of the 2023 women’s NCAA tournament championship game, only one star from the previous year could advance to the Final Four: Caitlin Clark, the standout of this college basketball season.

For the second consecutive year, Clark delivered a legendary performance in the Elite Eight, guiding her No. 1 seeded Iowa Hawkeyes to a 94-87 victory over defending national champion LSU, the No. 3 seed in the Albany 2 Regional.

Clark’s impressive stat line of 41 points, 12 assists, and 7 rebounds not only propelled her team to victory but also shattered more records in what has been a record-breaking senior season. She was rightfully awarded the regional’s Most Outstanding Player.

Iowa Women’s Basketball Players (Via IowaWBB/Twitter)

However, for Clark, the ultimate goal remains winning another national championship, something Iowa was deprived of last season in a loss to LSU.

Clark will lead Iowa against UConn, the Portland 3 Regional winner, in the national semifinals on Friday.

Following the triumph, Clark briefly savored the moment amidst the confetti on the court, surrounded by her teammates and their families as the nets were cut.

Even “Ted Lasso” star Jason Sudeikis, sporting a hoodie advocating for women’s sports, joined in the Iowa celebration. Yet, for a fleeting moment, Clark found solace in her own thoughts.

“I think just having a little silence for myself was the biggest thing,” Clark reflected. “You’re a competitor, you work so hard for 40 minutes — just to soak it in, enjoy it, take a couple of deep breaths, because these moments go fast. My career is almost over.”

Indeed, her college career is nearing its end, as Clark is widely expected to be selected as the top pick by the Indiana Fever in the upcoming WNBA draft on April 15.

However, she still has at least one more game to don the Iowa jersey, a symbol that has become iconic in basketball.

Despite entering the Elite Eight as the top seed, Iowa was perceived by many as the underdog, given LSU’s decisive victory in last season’s title game.

LSU Women’s Basketball (Via LSUwbkb/Twitter)

Yet, the Hawkeyes started the game with precision, particularly shining in the third quarter, where Clark’s trademark logo 3-pointers propelled them to a lead they would maintain.

This victory marks Iowa’s second consecutive Final Four appearance and their third.

Last year’s championship game was the most-watched in women’s college basketball history, drawing nearly 10 million viewers.

Coaches Kim Mulkey of LSU and Lisa Bluder of Iowa expressed regret that their teams met prior to the Final Four this season, but it undoubtedly created a riveting spectacle.

The question lingered: Would LSU’s Angel Reese, last year’s Final Four Most Outstanding Player, or Clark, one of the most transformative players in women’s college basketball, prevail?

“No matter which way it went tonight,” Reese remarked, “I knew this was going to be a night for the ages.”

Ultimately, it was Clark who emerged victorious. While Reese contributed 17 points and 20 rebounds before fouling out, it was not enough to secure the win for LSU.

As for her future, Reese may enter the upcoming WNBA draft or opt for another season at LSU.

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