Caitlin Clark scores 41 to lead Iowa past LSU, into Final Four


April 2 (UPI) -- Caitlin Clark pushed her yellow shoes off the hardwood, elevating, flicking her wrist and sinking jump shots all over MVP Arena en route to 41 points, leading Iowa past LSU for another trip to the Final Four.

The reigning National Player of the Year made 13 of 29 shots, including nine 3-pointers, in the 94-87 triumph Monday in Albany, N.Y.

"It's amazing to be back in the Final Four," Clark told reporters. "It's so hard to get there, especially with this region and how loaded this region was.

"We told ourselves; we are the No. 1 seed for a reason."

The top-seeded Hawkeyes, who lost to the No. 3 Tigers in last year's title game, outshot their foes 46.4% to 38.6%. Tigers star forward Angel Reese, the 2023 tournament's Most Outstanding Player, logged 17 points and 20 rebounds in the Elite Eight setback.

"We've been through so much adversity," Reese said. "I'm more than proud of this team. We don't have that much depth, have some injuries and I took some time away from the team. So many things happened this year.

"So many things hit us and we never folded. Being able to come out and give our all for 40 minutes, we came up short, but we have to keep our heads up."

Clark stepped back and sank a 3-pointer 17 seconds in for the first points of the game. The Hawkeyes held their initial lead until Reese turned a turnover into a layup with 1:23 remaining in the first quarter. The Reese score was part of a 14-3 run the Tigers used to carry a 31-26 edge into the second.

Guard Hailey Van Lith extended the run with a 3-pointer to start the second, giving the Tigers an eight-point lead. The Hawkeyes responded with six unanswered to tighten the score. The briefly regained the lead, but the score was tied 45-45 at the break.

Clark then heated up in the third, hitting her first three 3-point attempts and giving the lead back to the Hawkeyes, who never trailed again. She scored 22 points in the second half, including a dozen in the third quarter. The Hawkeyes used a 15-3 run in the quarter to carry a 69-58 lead into the fourth.

The Tigers outscored the Hawkeyes 29-25 over the final 10 minutes, but did not trim the deficit to less than six points down the stretch.

Flau'jae Johnson scored 23 points in the loss. Fellow Tigers guards Mikaylah Williams and Aneesah Morrow chipped in 18 and 14 points, respectively.

The Hawkeyes will battle the No. 3 UConn Huskies on Friday in the Final Four of the 2024 NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament.

"We wanna win two more and I think we have the power to do that," Clark said.

The Huskies advanced with an 80-73 victory over the No. 1 USC Trojans on Monday in Portland, Ore.

Huskies guard Paige Bueckers totaled 28 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the Elite Eight win. Huskies forward Aaliyah Edwards chipped in 24 points. Trojans star freshman guard JuJu Watkins scored a game-high 29 points and logged 10 rebounds.

The Huskies outshot the Trojans 48.3% to 32.9%. They made 46.7% of their 3-point attempts, compared to the Trojans' 31% clip from downtown.

The No. 1 overall seed South Carolina Gamecocks will face the No. 3 North Carolina State Wolfpack in the first Final Four matchup. That game will tip off at 7 p.m. EDT Friday in Cleveland. The Hawkeyes will then face the Huskies at 9 p.m. on the same court at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. Those games will air on ESPN.