Women's NCAA Final Four recap: Iowa shocks South Carolina, will face LSU in title game

The women's national title game is set.

LSU will play for its first national championship after a massive rally in the final quarter led to a 79-72 win over No. 1 seed Virginia Tech. It will face Iowa, which shocked No. 1 South Carolina 77-73 in the other national semifinal. The No. 2 Hawkeyes were powered by Caitlin Clark, who scored a Final Four record 41 points in the takedown of the defending champs.

No. 3 seed LSU overcame a 9-point deficit after three quarters and outscored Virginia Tech 28-13 in the final period to reach Sunday's national championship game.

Follow along for live updates throughout the day:

Caitlin Clark scores Final Four record 41 points as Iowa stuns undefeated South Carolina

The Aliyah Boston and Caitlin Clark showdown never materialized.

What we got was even better.

Clark put on a performance deserving of this massive stage, draining 3-pointers, breaking ankles in front of the basket and firing pinpoint passes at her teammates that South Carolina could only watch whiz by. She finished with a Final Four record 41 points and eight assists while Monika Czinano was devastating inside as Iowa won 77-73, snapping the defending national champions' 42-game winning streak.

Iowa will play LSU on Sunday, with both teams trying to win their first national title.

As time expired, Clark threw the ball in the air and cupped her hand to her right ear as if to say, "You hear that? That's the sound of a giant tumbling."   

— Nancy Armour 

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark celebrates the Hawkeyes' win over No. 1 South Carolina.
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark celebrates the Hawkeyes' win over No. 1 South Carolina.

3Q: No. 2 Iowa leads No. 1 South Carolina entering fourth quarter

Iowa pushed its lead back to nine points at 48-39, but South Carolina closed the gap with some bully-ball and trails by only four points, 59-55, entering the fourth quarter.

The defending national champions' size continues to be a problem for the Hawkeyes. South Carolina has not been shooting especially well, connecting at a 40.4% clip, and it has still only managed to hit two 3-pointers on 15 attempts. But the Gamecocks have dominated second-chance opportunities thanks to a staggering 18-4 edge in offensive rebounds.

South Carolina has 10 minutes to find an answer or its 42-game winning streak and bid for a second consecutive national title will end.

Half: No. 2 Iowa 38, No. 1 South Carolina 37; Clark, Boston in foul trouble

There were six lead changes in the last three minutes of the first half, but the Hawkeyes entered halftime with a one-point lead over the defending champion Gamecocks.

Zia Cooke leads South Carolina with 18 points, while the rest of the starters remain scoreless. Aliyah Boston spent a majority of the half on the bench after picking up two early fouls, but the Gamecocks' bench responded with 19 points, led by Laeticia Amihere’s eight.

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark also picked up two fouls, but unlike Boston, Clark remained on the floor and finished the half with 19 points and six assists.

South Carolina dominated the glass with its height, outrebounding Iowa 23-12, including 11 offensive rebounds. Kamilla Cardoso added three blocks, along with six points and six rebounds. Clark said the Hawkeyes have to do a better job boxing out and limiting “and-one” plays.

1Q: No. 2 Iowa 22, No. 1 South Carolina 13

The Hawkeyes closed the first-quarter on a 9-2 run to take a nine-point lead. Caitlin Clark scored 11 of Iowa’s 22 points and has scored or assisted on all but three of Iowa’s points. The Hawkeyes are shooting 56.3% from the field and 2-for-5 from three.

Aliyah Boston headed to the bench with two early fouls with 1:37 left in the first quarter. Zia Cooke leads the Gamecocks with 9 points. The rest of the starters remain scoreless. South Carolina shot 33.3% from the field and 0-for-5 from three.

LSU advances to first championship game with win over Virgina Tech

DALLAS — A furious fourth-quarter comeback from LSU erased as much as a 12-point Virginia Tech lead, giving the Tigers a 79-72 win in the first national semifinal at the women’s Final Four and advancing LSU to Sunday’s title game.

The Tigers will play the winner of South Carolina-Iowa. 

Trailing 59-50 entering the fourth, LSU reeled off 15 unanswered points to take a 72-62 lead with 3:04 to go. Virginia Tech, with its short bench, couldn't recover.

Alexis Morris led LSU with 27 points, while Angel Reese chipped in 24 points and 12 rebounds for her 33rd double-double of the season, setting a new women's basketball single-season record.

Virgina Tech was led by Kayana Taylor’s 17 points and nine rebounds. Elizabeth Kitley also turned in a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. But it wasn’t enough for the Hokies, who were playing in their program’s first-ever Final Four.

— Lindsay Schnell

3Q: No. 1 Virginia Tech 59, No. 3 LSU 50

Virginia Tech picked up right where they left off in the second quarter, outscoring LSU 25-18 to extend their lead to nine. The Hokies are surprisingly controlling the glass with 33 rebounds, including 10 offensive rebounds.

Kayana Traylor (17 points, nine rebounds, two steals) and Elizabeth Kitley (16 points, nine rebounds, three blocks) are both on double-double watch.

Alexis Morris led the Tigers with 17 points.  Angel Reese and LaDazhia Williams both added 14 points.

Hokies' Georgia Amoore sets NCAA single-tournament record

Despite going 0-5 to start the game, Amoore rebounded to knock down a trio of threes to set a new NCAA Tournament record. She has hit 23 three-pointers throughout March Madness, the most made threes in a single tournament. Amoore surpassed UConn’s Kia Nurse, who hit 22 threes in 2017, and Arizona’s Aari McDonald, who hit the same in 2021.

Half: No. 1 Virginia Tech 34, No. 3 LSU 32

Virginia Tech closed the first half on an 11-0 run to take a two-point lead, their first of the game. Hokies center Elizabeth Kitley has stepped up on both ends of the floor after Taylor Soule got in foul toruble. Kitley is two rebounds away from a double-double (12 points, eight rebounds). Georgia Amoore has six points from two made threes, tying the NCAA record for made three-pointers in a single tournament.

The Tigers were held scoreless in the last 4:48 of the half. Alexis Morris led the Tigers with 12 points, and Angel Reese added 10 points, but LSU was outrebounded 25-14 by the Hokies.

1Q: No. 3 LSU 16, No. 1 Virginia Tech 13

Virginia Tech got off to a slow start, shooting 25% from the field and 1-for-9 from three. Georgia Amoore missed her first five shot attempts before knocking down the Hokies’ sole three pointer of the quarter. Despite missing shots and seven turnovers, Virginia Tech was able to stay close to LSU thanks to nine offensive rebounds in the quarter. Taylor Soule headed to the bench early with two first-quarter fouls.

Alexis Morris led the Tigers with eight points. LSU shot 43.8% from the field and didn’t attempt any three pointers.

LSU cheerleaders rescue ball stuck behind backboard

Cheerleaders to the rescue!

The game ball got stuck behind the backboard in the opening seconds of the Final Four matchup between No. 1 seed Virginia Tech and No. 3 seed LSU following a turnover from the HokiesCayla King. Two LSU cheerleaders performed a stunt to free the ball for play to resume at American Airlines Center.

“What were the odds of that happening in the first 33 seconds in the national semifinal,” ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said over the broadcast.

Virginia Tech and LSU face off in first national semifinal

The No. 1 seeded Virginia Tech Hokies have tipped off against the No. 3 seeded LSU Tigers as each seek their first national championship.

Both teams feature a potent guard-post combo. LSU sophomore forward Angel Reese (23.2 ppg, 15.7 rpg) has been a double-double machine, leading the nation with 32 this season, but Virginia Tech senior center Elizabeth Kitley averages a double-double as well with 18.2 points per game and 10.7 rebounds.

Out on the perimeter, Virginia Tech guard Georgia Amoore has had a breakout season; the junior is averaging 16.3 ppg, 5.0 apg and 3.0 rpg for the Hokies. LSU has its own star guard in Alexis Morris. The senior is averaging 14.9 ppg, 4.1 apg and 1.9 spg for the Tigers.

LSU coach Kim Mulkey goes 'Pretty in Pink' for Final Four

DALLAS – On the Final Four stage, you know Kim Mulkey's outfit was going to pop.

And it certainly pops.

For LSU women's basketball's Final Four showdown against Virginia Tech inside American Airlines Center on Friday night (6 p.m., ESPN), Mulkey decided to go with a vibrant pink jacket accented by large, pink fabric flowers running from the shoulders down to the wrists on both arms.

She's wearing a white blouse and pants underneath her jacket, along with white heels. Mulkey is matching with her granddaughter, who walked into the arena hand-in-hand with Mulkey wearing a white dress with pink frills on the shoulders.

— Cory Diaz, Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Virginia Tech coach says Black men belong coaching women's basketball 

Kenny Brooks, in his seventh year at Virginia Tech, is part of elite company. His No. 1 seeded Hokies beat Ohio State 84-74 on Monday to clinch their ticket to the Final Four, a first for the program based in Blacksburg, Virginia. They play third-seeded LSU in the first national semifinal Friday at 7 p.m. ET.

The significance of the moment is not lost on Brooks, the only Black male head coach in the Power Five. (When Houston moves to the Big 12 in July, Ronald Hughey will become the second.)

“Obviously it’s a topic I don’t shy away from,” Brooks said. “I know that when I was trying (to) make a name for myself, there wasn’t very many people that were doing it or advocated for people that looked like me.”

— Lindsay Schnell

Caitlin Clark, like Steph Curry, has redefined what a good shot is

Did Clark really just hit that shot, thread that pass or finish that layup in transition?

Yes, she did and she does — regularly. And it’s just as spectacular as you can imagine. Maybe more so.

Clark has become one of the sport's biggest stars and walking highlight reel because of her how-did-she-see-that?! passes and unlimited shooting range. But for as talented and awe-inspiring as Clark herself is, Iowa coach Lisa Bluder deserves some credit too. Because she lets Clark be exactly who she is.

— Lindsay Schnell

Tale of the tape: Caitlin Clark and Aliya Boston

The national semifinal between Iowa and South Carolina is being billed as “Aliyah vs. Caitlin,” and with good reason. Aliyah Boston, the South Carolina forward, and Caitlin Clark, the Iowa guard, have been the best players in college basketball the last two seasons, spawning superlatives and earning national accolades.

Seeing them play each other is on every fan’s wish list, making Friday night’s game arguably the most anticipated of the Final Four – men’s or women’s.

— Nancy Armour

Aliyah Boston vs. Caitlin Clark showdown is great for the sport

Fans of women’s basketball have been clamoring the last two years for the Aliyah Boston and Caitlin Clark showdown, and those who just tuned in during March Madness have now joined the chorus. Well, the masses are finally getting what they want.

"Everybody has been talking about this matchup for a really long time. It's exciting that it's happening in the Final Four," Boston said Thursday.

— Nancy Armour

Iowa's Caitlin Clark wins Wade Trophy, AP women's basketball POY awards

The Iowa women's basketball star won the Wade Trophy, the highest honor in women's college basketball, on Thursday, the same award Aliyah Boston won last season.

Clark is the first Hawkeyes player to ever win the award, which is presented by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Earlier in the day, she was tapped as The Associated Press women's basketball Player of the Year. She received 20 of a possible 28 votes in the tally that was taken prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament.

She's raking in the awards. On Wednesday, Clark was named the Naismith Player of the Year. Will a national championship be next?

– Victoria Hernandez

When does Women's NCAA Tournament Final Four start?

The first of two Final Four games will tip off Friday at 7:00 p.m. ET when No. 3 LSU takes on No. 1 Virginia Tech at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, which is also the site of the championship game.

The LSU-Virginia Tech game will be followed by No. 1 South Carolina v. No. 2 Iowa at 9:00 p.m. ET.

What TV channel is the Women's NCAA Tournament Final Four on?

Both games will be broadcast on ESPN, with Ryan Ruocco (play-by-play), Rebecca Lobo (analyst), Holly Rowe (reporter) and Andraya Carter (reporter) on the call.

Both games can be live-streamed through the ESPN website and the ESPN app.

Who are the players to watch for each team?

— No. 3 LSU: F Angel Reese, sophomore (23.2 ppg, 15.7 rpg, 2.2 apg)

— No. 1 Virginia Tech: G Georgia Amoore, junior (16.3 ppg, 5.0 apg, 3.0 rpg).

— No. 2 Iowa: G Caitlin Clark, junior (27.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 8.6 apg)

— No. 1 South Carolina: F Aliyah Boston, senior (13.2 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.9 apg)

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Women's Final Four recap: Iowa upsets South Carolina, will face LSU