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“Good Villains” Look To Earn Second Straight Final Four Berth

For some reason, drama and the LSU women’s basketball program go hand in hand. But star forward Angel Reese claims the LSU Tigers are “the good villains” as they look to reach their second straight Final Four berth.

  “Good Villains” Look To Earn Second Straight Final Four Berth

The LSU Tigers are one of the top programs in women’s basketball history. However, the Tigers never reached the pinnacle of the sport until last year, just the second year of head coach Kim Mulkey’s tenure, when they defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes in the national title game.

LSU didn’t earn too many fans in the media along the way due to Mulkey’s and Reese’s antics.

Mulkey has a reputation for being a tough-nosed and no-nonsense coach who allows her emotions to get the best of her at times. She received major criticism for her reaction to an upcoming Washington Post story — threatening to sue the paper if she was defamed — as her rant took attention away from her players as they prepared for their Sweet 16 matchup against UCLA on Saturday.

It turned out that Mulkey got upset for no reason, as the story wasn’t all that unflattering.

LSU Defeats UCLA In Regional Semi-final

Despite the noise, the third-seeded Tigers, in Albany 2 Region, took care of business by defeating the second-seeded Bruins 78-69. Flau’jae Williams and Reese led the Tigers as each player posted a double-double. The duo combined for 40 points, 23 rebounds, five steals and four blocks.

“We’re the good villains,” Reese said after the game. “Everybody wants to beat LSU. Everybody wants to be LSU.

You’ve gotta realize, we’re not any regular basketball team. Coach talks about it all the time. She calls us the Beatles, like, people are running after our bus, people are coming at games, you’re seeing sellouts, you’re seeing people buying jerseys, you’re seeing more sellouts than the men.

We’re impacting the game so much and all of us are just super competitive and want to win and want to do whatever it takes to win. We’re just changing the game; we’re doing the unknown. Me being able to be on the court, but also off the court, I like to model and do other things. I can do both. Flau’jae (Johnson) can do both. Aneesah (Morrow) can do both. We can all do both, and that’s what people don’t believe in.

They don’t think that we’re focused, and we prove every single night when we get between those lines, we’re focused. That’s what we’re worried about. So, just being able to have teammates that have my back, have teammates, have coaches that just have each others’ back this whole time; I don’t care what the outside thinks. I know what’s going on in that locker room.”

Rematch of the 2023 Championship Game

Now, LSU (31-5) faces Albany 2, top-seeded Iowa (32-4), tonight in Albany at 7 p.m. (ET), with a trip to the Final Four on the line. This marks the second meeting between LSU and Iowa, the first being last year’s national championship contest, which saw the Tigers win their first title with a 102-87 victory.

Alexis Morris, Jasmine Carson, and LaDazhia Williams combined for 63 points to lead the way for LSU. But all three of those players graduated.

Meanwhile, Reese showed her all-around ability with 15 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and one block. Johnson contributed 10 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, though she struggled with shooting and turnovers.

Hawkeyes star Caitlyn Clark was terrific in the loss, throwing in 30 points, 24 of which came from beyond the arc, and doling out eight assists. But Clark was just 9 of 22 from the field and committed six turnovers.

Clark was joined in double figures by three others in last year’s affair, including two who will suit up for the Hawkeyes in the rematch — Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall.

“We talk about growing the game,” Mulkey said yesterday. “Didn’t that national championship game have the highest ratings ever in women’s basketball? You’re probably going to anticipate this one will, too, but it needs to be at the Final Four.”

“You’ve got two very talented players that have brought a lot of attention to our sport,” Mulkey added. “They both trash talk, they both make their teammates better and they both have their teammates’ back. They have both elevated our game to where we have people watching that never watched women’s basketball before.”

LSU enters tonight’s contest playing solid basketball, winning 13 of their last 14 games. The Tigers are among the best offensive and defensive teams in the nation, as they are 11th in efficiency on both ends of the court. The Tigers are second in scoring at 85.9 points a game and 16th in shooting at 46.5%. Reese leads five players in double-figures at 18.7 points and 13.2 boards.

Iowa has won nine straight and is 14-3 in its last 17 outings. The Hawkeyes are the top offensive team in the country, tallying 91.9 points a game, but they are in the bottom half of the nation in defense. Clark is the nation’s top player, producing 31.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 8.2 assists while canning 5.1 threes and shooting .460/.377/.862.

However, Clark accounts for over 33% of the Hawkeyes offense. Hannah Stulke (14.0 points, 6.8 rebounds) and Martin (12.8, 6.8) are the only Hawkeyes in double-figures.



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