11:15 p.m. Friday
Iowa will play LSU for the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship on Sunday afternoon at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Behind 41 points by Caitlin Clark, the Hawkeyes shocked number one overall seed and defending national champion South Carolina, 77-73, in the Final Four on Friday night. The loss ended the Gamecocks’ 42-game winning streak and bid for an undefeated season.
Iowa opened the game on an 8-2 run and held a nine-point lead at the end of the first quarter as South Carolina star Aliyah Boston picked up two early fouls and became a nonfactor in the first half.
Zia Cooke picked up the slack with 18 points in the first half, but South Carolina could not stop AP Player of the Year Clark.
Clark and Monika Czinano combined for 29 points in the first half as Iowa withstood a late flurry from the Gamecocks and clung to a one-point lead.
South Carolina tried to get the ball in the paint, but Iowa was there with the defense to make things difficult or cause turnovers each time.
Trailing by one with 3:54 remaining, Cooke tried to make a pass to a teammate in the corner for an open three, but it sailed out of bounds. Iowa answered with a Clark layup, and South Carolina failed to execute as it turned the ball over on several critical possessions late in the game.
The Gamecocks trimmed the lead to two with 14 seconds left in the game. Clark launched another three-pointer that missed, but Iowa’s McKenna Warnock tracked down the rebound, forcing South Carolina to foul to extend the game.
South Carolina sent Clark to the line twice in the final seconds, and she made all four free throws to clinch the upset.
The championship game will be played at 2:30 p.m. CT Sunday.
8:45 p.m. update
LSU has secured the first spot in Sunday’s NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship.
The Tigers knocked off one-seed Virginia Tech, 79-72, in the first semifinal Friday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas thanks to a 29-13 fourth quarter.
LSU started quickly, dominating in the paint offensively and running Virginia Tech off the three-point line on defense. The Hokies started the game 0-7 on three-pointers and finished the half shooting just 25% from behind the arc.
Angel Reese and Alexis Morris scored 18 of LSU’s first 24 points as the Tigers seemed to control the early stages of the game
Virginia Tech faced multiple potentially dangerous situations in the second quarter as LSU threatened to run away with the game, but started finding success by going inside on offense and double-teaming LSU in the low post.
Georgia Amoore and Cayla King hit back-to-back threes to cut the deficit to one, then the Hokies responded to a 10-2 LSU run with an 11-0 run of their own while holding the Tigers scoreless over the final 4:48 to take an improbable two-point lead into halftime.
Virginia Tech came out in a zone defense in the second half, forcing LSU to take more outside shots. The Tigers could not convert well on threes, shooting just 37.5% from deep in the third quarter, but eventually found a rhythm through short jumpers and rebounding.
The Hokies went on a 23-5 tear as LSU struggled to find its footing, but the Tigers were not done.
Trailing 59-50 entering the fourth, LSU seized momentum with a 16-3 run that included a Flau’jae Johnson layup to take the lead with 5:44 left.
LSU will play either Iowa or South Carolina at 2:30 p.m. CT Sunday.
The 2023 NCAA Women’s Final Four tipped off Friday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Third-seeded LSU (32-2) was trailing top-seeded Virginia Tech (31-4), 34-32, at halftime.
Virginia Tech is in the Final Four for the first time in program history, while LSU is returning for the first time since 2008, in the second year of what many considered a “rebuild.”
The second game of the night will be two-seed Iowa (30-6) against the number one overall seed South Carolina (36-0).
Iowa features an experienced group with five starters who have played 90 games together, led by AP Player of the Year Caitlin Clark. Meanwhile, South Carolina has become the premier program in women’s college basketball and is attempting to win its second straight national championship and third since 2017.
The second game is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT but may be affected by when the first game ends.
The winners will face off in the national championship game at 2:30 p.m. CT on Sunday.
The Division II and Division III championship games are also being played at the American Airlines Center this weekend.
Transylvania (32-0) plays Christopher Newport (31-0) for the Division III crown at 11 a.m. CT Saturday, while Minnesota-Duluth (32-3) and Ashland (36-0) battle for the Division II title at 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday.