Recap: LSU's hot shooting dooms Iowa in national title game

Will Kennedy
Des Moines Register

The fairytale ending for Iowa women’s basketball was just not to be in 2023. 

LSU jumped out to a fast start and hit virtually every shot they put up in the first half and rode that momentum to the program’s first national title. The Hawkeyes will have to wait at least one more year to bring their first national championship back to Iowa City. 

Check out this recap of everything that happened in LSU’s 102-85 victory over Iowa in the national championship game. 

More:What to know about LSU, Iowa women's basketball's NCAA championship game opponent

FINAL: LSU 102, Iowa 85

The Tigers put up the most points in a national title game and crush Iowa’s national title dreams.

That’s the dagger

LSU drains the shot clock all the way down and Kateri Poole drills a 3-pointer, the team’s first of the half. That gives the Tigers a 98-82 lead with under a minute to play. 

10-second violation gives Iowa the ball back 

The Tigers are up by 13 points with 2:57 left to play. It’s an not impossible task, but it’s not going to be an easy deficit to overcome.

Monika Ciznano fouls out

Ciznano’s career with the Hawkeyes ends on an illegal screen trying to get Caitlin Clark an open look at a 3-pointer. 

Iowa down 85-71 now.

LSU going on a run

Clark is clearly playing a lot more carefully on defense here in an effort to remain on the floor and that, in part, has allowed LSU to open up a 6-0 run over the last 1:07. 

Tigers up 83-69 with 7:11 to play. Still plenty of time for a comeback, especially with the way Iowa can shoot.

Clark starts the fourth quarter on the floor, Ciznano on the bench

Caitlin Clark, with four fouls on her, is on the floor to start the final quarter. Monika Czinano is on the bench with four personal fouls.

END 3: LSU 75, Iowa 64 

Ten minutes to play and Iowa’s got an uphill climb with their two best players up to four fouls.

Ciznano, Clark both up to four fouls

Ciznano got a common foul on a play in the post. Then Caitlin Clark picked up her fourth shortly after. Both superstars have just one foul to give with over 11 minutes left in the game. 

LSU up 75-64

Seven 3-pointers for Clark

That’s a national title game record. She’s got 25 points on the night so far. LSU lead down to just seven.

15-2 run for the Hawkeyes

Iowa has stormed back into this one and has cut the LSU lead to just eight points, 65-57, with just under five minutes to play in the third quarter. They’re outscoring the Tigers 15-6 in the second half.

Iowa not backing down

Hawkeyes on a 12-0 run now to cut the LSU lead down to just nine with about six minutes to play in the third quarter. 

Tigers up 63-54 now.

Clark makes history

A 3-pointer early in the second half gives Caitlin Clark 180 points in the tournament. That’s the most in the history of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Czinano picks up her third foul

Now both Catilin Clark and Czinano are up to three fouls each early in the second half. Tigers are up 61-42

Back underway in Dallas

We're 20 minutes away from the end of the season and Iowa's down 17. Can they pull off the comeback?

Hawkeyes will need a historic second-half effort

No team in a women’s title game has ever come back from 17 points at the half to win the game, according to the ABC broadcast. This team has liked making history so far this year, but this might be the biggest challenge they’ve faced yet. 

The largest halftime deficit they’ve faced all tournament was just one point.

Bench points a big factor

With the fouls on Clark and Ciznano, bench players are going to need to step up at times throughout the second half.  Right now, LSU’s bench is outsourcing the Hawkeyes 29-2 at the half. 

A bright spot for Iowa is rebounding, though. They’re down 16-13 in that area, but LSU’s margin coming into this game is +16, so +3 is an accomplishment. Though a lot of that probably has to do with Angel Reese being out with two fouls. 

HALFTIME: LSU 59, Iowa 42

The Hawkeyes are looking shell-shocked right now. LSU ended the second quarter on a 7-0 run, including a buzzer-beating layup from Jasmine Carson off the bank. 

Both superstars on Iowa, Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano, have foul trouble on them. The Tigers’ best player, Angel Reese, hasn’t played much in the first half at all after picking up two fouls early on. 

Iowa will need to get tighter coverage on the perimeter or hope the Tigers go cold from beyond the arc. Going cold is a real possibility, LSU hasn't shot it super well throughout the season. But is a 17-point advantage big enough to allow them to trade two-pointers for 3s for the rest of the way?

Fans will point to the officiating, which is fair. It's been pretty horrendous. But it's been bad for both sides and it's tough to make a case as that being the biggest difference in the game when the Tigers are shooting 75% from long range and over 50% from the field.

Not going great for Iowa right now

LSU is not a great shooting team but they are on fire right now. They’ve hit eight of their last 10 overall and are shooting 70% from 3-point range. They’re up 49-38 and Caitlin Clark had to check out after picking up her third foul on the day. 

It's the Jasmine Carson show for LSU

Tigers killing Iowa from beyond the arc

This is something the Hawkeyes didn't have to worry about against South Carolina.

LSU up 41-34 about halfway through the second.

Supporting cast stepping up

The Hawkeyes had an 8-2 run to open the quarter and are currently on a streak of 10 straight points scored by somebody not named Caitlin Clark. 

But the Tigers have been answering back and still hold a four-point lead.  Clark just picked up her second foul too.

END 1: LSU 27, Iowa 22

Caitlin Clark has 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting, all of them from long range, plus two free throws. Nobody else on the team has more than four points, though. Somebody will need to step up with Czinano in foul trouble.

Hawkeyes held without a made shot from the field for the last 3:49 of game action to end the frame.

Ref show in Dallas

Angel Reese is up to two fouls now so she’s been sent to the bench. Overall, the vast majority of these foul calls on both Iowa and LSU have been pretty debatable, at best.

Monkia Czinano in foul trouble 

The big-tme post player is on the bench after picking up two fouls in the opening quarter. The Hawkeyes as a team are up to six fouls already. LSU has just one.

Clark is feeling it on the biggest stage

The sharpshooter already has four made 3-pointers in the opening frame. She had five on 17 attempts for the entire semifinal against South Carolina.

LSU storming back to take lead

The Tigers average five made 3-pointers per season but have two so far today. They’re on a 8-3 run and have taken a 15-12 lead late in the opening frame. They’ll have two shots at the line at end of the media timeout too. 

Angel Reese, a first-team All-American who dominated the Hawkeyes a season ago when she played for Maryland, is up to four points and has drained both of her shot attempts. Clark is the only player with more points than her on the floor.

Iowa defense playing strong

The Hawkeyes have four steals already less than five minutes into the game.

Polar opposite of South Carolina game

In the semifinal, it took over two minutes of game action for either team to score. We're barely a minute in and Iowa's up 7- 3. Caitlin Clark just drilled a DEEEP 3-pointer on her first attempt of the game.

Something to keep an eye on is how LSU does from beyond the arc. They shoot a lot better than South Carolina and tend to out-rebound their opponents by a big margin too. Though they're not as physical down low as the Gamecocks are, though.

We're underway

LSU wins the tip and we're off. Just 40 minutes from crowning a national champion.

Getting close to tipoff now

Get to ABC. Broadcast starts at 2:30 with the game to begin shortly after.

Some pretty big names in the house to watch the national championship

Not in Dallas? Head to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a watch party

The home venue of the Hawkeyes is hosting a watch party for fans. Doors are already open, so head down there quick if you want to be anxious with thousands of other fans wearing black and gold.

More:Women's basketball national championship watch party set at Carver-Hawkeye Arena

Caitlin Clark putting up some long-range shots in warm-ups

The Iowa superstar is well-known for her ability to drill a deep shot from 3-point land. In shootaround, she's been firing off a few shots from DEEEEEEEP range. Who knows if we see her pull up from there during the game, but would it surprise any of us if she does?

Kim Mulkey dressing for success

The three-time national title-winning coach is known nearly as much for her fashion sense as she is for her elite coaching ability. Check out the 'fit she'll be rocking on the sideline for the national title game this afternoon.

Here's Iowa's starting lineup

No surprises here.

Hawkeyes are first in-state team to reach title game since 1956

Only one Division I basketball program, men's or women's, has made it to the national title game before. It was all the way back in 1956 when the Hawkeye men reached the biggest stage, but lost to the Bill Russell-led University of San Francisco.

Take a look back at that team in the link below to learn a little bit more about the last time Iowa's had a representative in the biggest game of the year.

More:Iowa women's basketball first in-state team to reach national title game since 1956 Hawkeye men

Is this Iowa women's basketball team a 'team of destiny'?

The Hawkeyes have had to go through some trials to get to this point. Being overlooked for a top seed in their region and having to settle for a 2-seed. Then they were in a dogfight with Georgia in the Round of 32, a hurdle they failed to get over a season ago.

In the Elite Eight, they played the same day as learning of the death of associate head coach Jan Jensen’s father and came away with a win over Louisville in part for her. Then of course, taking down the juggernaut that is South Carolina in the Final Four.

“It is absolutely our destiny” to win this year’s NCAA women’s basketball championship. That's what head coach Lisa Bluder said after Friday's game. Our Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow explored that team of destiny thought a bit more in his pregame column, which you can read below.

More:Leistikow's 4 thoughts ahead of Iowa-LSU title matchup: 'Team of destiny' is confident

We've got a friendly bet between governors of Iowa and Louisiana

Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana tweeted at Gov. Kim Reynolds on Saturday night that he's willing to bet some Louisiana boudin that LSU will bring the national championship back to Baton Rouge.

Reynolds responded by putting some Iowa pork on the line.