DALLAS (AP) – Kim Mulkey returned home to Louisiana wanting to bring UNC his first basketball ball. The Hall of Fame coach did just that in his second year at the school.
The Tigers used a solid offensive performance to beat Caitlin Clark and Iowa 102-85 on Sunday and win the first basketball title, men’s or women’s, in school history.
“I turned around and looked at the last four flags (in the home arena), nowhere did it say national champion,” Mulkey said. “This is what I came to his house to do.”
Victoria Mulkey became the first women’s coach to win national titles at two different schools. She won three at Baylor before leaving for LSU two years ago.
“I coach life and I’m blessed with this fourth,” Mulkey said. “Never in the history of UNC basketball (men’s or women’s) have they ever played for a championship.”
The feisty and smartly dressed Mulkey, who wears a bright, golden, tiger outfit, now has the third most national titles behind Gene Auriemma’s 11 and Pat Summitt’s eight. Mulkey has never lost in a bowl game.
“My tears are tears of joy,” he said. “I’m so happy everyone is back home in Louisiana.”
Clark Associated Press national player of the yearHe failed to lead the Hawkeyes to their first national title, despite one of the greatest individual games in NCAA history. The junior finished with 30 points. She scored 40 in the semifinals of the invincible South Marcus beat He had one game after this first 40-point triple double in the history of the games in the elite eight.
The shooting guard set the NCAA record for passing points in a tournament with 177 that Sheryl Swoopes set in 1993 while leading Texas Tech to the title. Clark finished his tournament with 191.
The 102 points broke the previous high for a championship game, surpassing the 97 that Texas scored in Southern California in 1986.
“So much for preaching defense and rebounding,” Mulkey said, laughing.
Taking in the game was first lady Jill Biden, who sat courtside with tennis great Billie Jean King.
Mulkey said he had not met the first lady but told the AP that if the team called the White House, she would go.
Jasmine Carson scored 22 points, Alexis Morris added 21 and Angel Reese had 15 points and 10 rebounds for LSU (34-2).
“There is no one here who shows himself. When I go down, it’s the next man up,” said Reese, who was honored as the Final Four’s Outstanding Player. “Every time, every time I go out or Alexis goes out, they always come in.”
Trailing by 21 points early in the third quarter, Iowa began a 15-2 run from the outside, hitting four 3-pointers and a 3-point play to bring it within 65-57.
The Hawkeyes (31-7) trailed 73-64 with 1:03 left in the third quarter when Clark was called for a technical foul. He threw the ball on the ground after a foul call against a teammate. The fourth part of the game, which they considered base.
“I thought it was very, very close,” Clark said. “Hit the foul technical ball for a shot under the basket – how things are sometimes.”
Clark played the entire quarter with four birdies but the Hawkeyes couldn’t get much closer.
“They really played, they were ready to go. They did a great job. I’m so proud of my team,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “It’s brutal, it’s really tough to walk out of that room today and not be able to coach Monika (Czinano) and McKenna (Warnock) again. I’m very grateful for the time we had, and I don’t want to take anything away from it.”
After Katari Poole hit a 3-pointer in front of the UNC court, Mulkey began to cry.
“With 1:30 to go, I couldn’t hold it. I got very emotional,” Mulkey said. This is exactly what we do in the second year of returning home or returning home.”
A few seconds later after another LSU basket, Reese taunted Clark by putting his hand in front of his face with a “you can’t see me” gesture and pointed his ring finger.
As the final seconds ticked off, Mulkey and Reese hugged, a wild celebration from the Tigers.
The game was tight for the first 15 minutes before Carson got hot from the outside. In the second half, he made all six of his shots, including four 3-pointers. After one of them he threw his hands in the air, which Mulkey imitated on the sidelines.
For good measure, a freshman hit a shot just under the buzzer before halftime to give the Tigers a 59-42 lead at halftime. It was most points ever in the first half of the championship game, breaking a record held by Tennessee since 1998.
LSU shot 58% from the field in the opening 20 minutes, including going nine for 12 from behind the arc. The Tigers finished the game shooting 54% from the field, including making 11 of 17 3-pointers.
Clark had 16 points and five assists before picking up a third foul with 3:56 to go in the half, which didn’t sit well with the sellout crowd of more than 19,000 fans.
Before Sunday, Carson had gone scoreless in five of his seven postseason games. He had 11 points in this NCAA tournament before the final.
“I would definitely say this was the game of my life because I won a national championship in the biggest stadium I’ve ever played in college,” Carson said. “When I woke up, I just wanted to win — what I needed in this game for my team, whether it was defense, rebounding, helping them. I noticed that tonight and that’s what pushed us and got the momentum.