The Elite Eight Last Night Has Shown The Progression of Women’s Basketball


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The Elite Eight matchups final evening have been nothing quick of spectacular for ladies’s basketball, that includes 5 standout gamers on the forefront of the sport, capturing the eye of American sports activities viewers on Monday evening.

The LSU duo of Angel Reese and rapper/hooper Flaujae Johnson took on Iowa’s Caitlin Clark in a extremely anticipated rematch of final 12 months’s National Championship. The night’s second recreation spotlighted USC’s freshman sensation JuJu Watkins as she went head-to-head with one of probably the most full gamers within the nation, UCONN’s Paige Bueckers.

In Albany, New York, final evening, probably the most awaited ladies’s basketball matchup within the sport’s historical past unfolded as LSU and Iowa clashed within the NCAA Tournament. The Lady Tigers emerged victorious with a 102-85 win, regardless of Iowa’s sharpshooter Clark delivering a formidable efficiency with 30 factors, eight assists, and two rebounds. However, LSU’s depth and scoring prowess proved overwhelming for Clark’s supporting forged.

Kim Mulkey, reflecting on the evening’s occasions, echoed the sentiment that Clark was an imposing drive from the beginning towards the Lady Tigers.

“She’s just a generational player, and she just makes everybody around her better,” Coach Mulkey advised the media postgame. “That’s what the great ones do.”

Clark completed the sport with 41 factors and 9 assists, hitting 9 three-pointers and breaking a viewership document of 9.9 million for a ladies’s basketball recreation. Reese was fouled out on a questionable name in direction of the tip, whereas her crew was already trailing by eight with lower than two minutes remaining. Despite this, she delivered a dominating efficiency with 17 factors and 20 rebounds.

The standout of the evening was Flau’jae Johnson, who led the crew with 23 factors and 6 rebounds. Postgame, she made it clear how a lot work she and Reese had put in and spoke extremely of Angel Reese, one of her closest buddies, highlighting the sort of individual she is.

“Everybody is entitled to their opinion on Angel Reese, but they don’t truly know her,” Johnson advised the media. “I do. I know the real Angel Reese, and the person I encounter daily is incredibly strong. She’s caring, loving. The crown she wears is indeed heavy.”

Johnson felt compelled to talk out, not as a result of she needed to, however as a result of she needed to focus on what Reese has meant to this program and the game over the past 12 months and a half. The significance of psychological well being for athletes can’t be overstated, and Reese didn’t select to excel at basketball solely to face unwarranted ridicule and scrutiny.

She shared her emotions of unhappiness since profitable a championship, emphasizing that nobody deserves to endure such a sentiment all through their season. Having obtained demise threats, Reese needed to remind everybody that she is, in spite of everything, human.

This recreation divided America, with some supporting the babyface, Clark, the underdog who struggled to recover from the hump towards the Lady Tigers.

Not solely did LSU win final 12 months, however in addition they turned richer after they acquired combo guard Hailey Van Lith from Louisville final summer season. However, final evening, Hailey couldn’t sustain with Clark, who made her pay for it. Social media was abuzz, questioning why Mulkey’s in-game changes have been missing.

Clark’s media consideration has been important, main her crew to a 32-4 document. She broke the NCAA scoring document, turned the Big Ten profession chief in triple-doubles, was named Big Ten Player of the Year, and achieved probably the most 30-point video games by any man or girl in Division I previously 25 years.

The matchup was a legacy recreation for Clark, providing her the possibility to avenge final 12 months’s loss to her arch-rival and advance to the Final Four in Cleveland. Both Clark and Reese, painted as rivals, have emphasised that their competitors is pleasant, with no in poor health will between them. Their rivalry has considerably contributed to the expansion of the game.

The second match lacked the drama of the primary, however for actual basketball followers, it was the one to observe. The UConn Huskies, arguably probably the most dominant ladies’s program of the twenty first century, are led by Head Coach Geno Auriemma, a key determine in school basketball with 27 event championships, nine-time Associated Press Coach of the Year titles, and 11 NCAA Championships.

UConn is now 15-0 of their final fifteen Elite Eight matchups, a staggering statistic. Bueckers didn’t disappoint, outshining freshman sensation JuJu Watkins of USC.

Watkins was excellent, overcoming a poor taking pictures evening to attain a double-double, ending with 29 factors, 10 rebounds, and two assists.

UConn Guard Paige Bueckers is pursuing the one achievement that has eluded her: profitable a National Championship. Despite main her crew to the Final Four in her freshman and sophomore years, back-to-back knee accidents had put Bueckers beneath the radar as the ladies’s recreation reached new heights. She got here again even stronger, and final evening, she reminded everybody why some take into account her one of probably the most full gamers within the nation, a sentiment echoed by South Carolina’s Head Coach Dawn Staley.

“Paige was good when she was injured,” Stayley advised the media a couple of weeks in the past. “She was good in the National Championship Game(2022). I love Paige’s game. For me, I would like for her to take more shots if I’m Geno(Auriemma) because she doesn’t take bad shots. She’s got great court vision, she’s got great court awareness. Paige is going to be an Olympian at some point soon.”

High reward from a former Olympian certainly, however make no mistake, USC’s JuJu Watkins was ready and prepared for UConn. She is the subsequent face of ladies’s basketball, having damaged the freshman scoring document throughout final evening’s Elite Eight matchup. As a Los Angeles native who selected to remain dwelling and lead the Lady Trojans again to prominence, she has not disenchanted since stepping onto campus.

Winning National Freshman of the Year, incomes First Team All-American honors, making the All-Pac-12 crew, the All-Pac-12 Defensive crew, and being named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. Scoring 51 factors in a single recreation this season, she positioned second in convention historical past for factors in a recreation. She is right here to remain and will likely be a good higher participant subsequent 12 months.

Now that the Final Four is about, will we see Paige vs. Kaitlyn on Friday? Man, oh man, a UConn crew that may defend and has a dimension benefit over this Iowa crew, which doesn’t have the identical roster as final 12 months that may have matched up higher with the Lady Huskies. However, take a look at beneath how all 4 girls, together with Flau’Jae, confirmed out final evening. These video games didn’t disappoint in any respect.

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