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Flau’Jae Johnson, Hailey Van Lith fiercely defend Angel Reese: ‘People speak hate into her life’

LSU’s season came to an end on Monday night in the Elite Eight against Iowa as the Hawkeyes took the national title rematch 94-87 to advance to the Final Four.

Despite a valiant effort from star Angel Reese, who had a 17-point, 20-rebound double-double, the Tigers couldn’t keep their hopes alive of repeating as champions.

Reese has faced quite a bit of criticism, mostly as a result of her passion and intensity. Much of it also crosses a line, and it isn’t lost on her teammates, who took the opportunity to defend their leader after the game.

“Everybody can have their opinion on Angel Reese, but y’all don’t know her. Y’all don’t know Angel Reese. I know Angel Reese,” Flau'Jae Johnson, who led the Tigers with 23 points in the loss, said. “I know the real Angel Reese and the person I see every day is a strong person. Is a caring, loving person. The crown she wears is heavy. She’s the type of teammate that’s going to make you believe in yourself.

“The leap that I took from my freshman to my sophomore year, Angel gave me that confidence to go be a dog. Playing next to a dog every day. And just to see how the media ridicules her, this is my sister here and I’m so proud of her. How they like to twist it and call her the villain, y’all don’t know Angel… She just makes me a better player, and that’s what great players do.”

Guard Hailey Van Lith, who joined the team this offseason as a transfer from Louisville, echoed those sentiments.

“Angel’s one of the toughest people I’ve been around,” Van Lith said. “People speak hate into her life, I’ve never seen people wish bad things on someone as much as her. And it does not affect her. She comes to practice every day, she lives her life every day, she lives how she wants to live. And she don’t let nobody change that. And that’s the key to life right there.

“Y’all do not get to her. Let me say it again: Y’all do not get to Angel Reese, so you might want to give it up. Throw the towel in. Because you’re wasting your energy. Angel is one of the toughest people I’ve been around.”

It remains to be seen if Reese, who has a remaining season of eligibility as a fourth-year junior but is also eligible for the WNBA draft, has played her last game with the Tigers.

But regardless of what she ultimately decides, she has already achieved legend status at LSU. And it seems she’s made quite the positive impact on her teammates, as well.

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Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire