Order on the court

National championship game sparks drama


Photo by TNS

Angel Reese (10) of the LSU Lady Tigers reacts toward Caitlin Clark (22) of the Iowa Hawkeyes during the fourth quarter of the 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament championship game at American Airlines Center on Sunday, April 2, 2023, in Dallas. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/TNS)

Story by Kailyn Williams, Sports Editor

The record-breaking, history-making championship game for women’s NCAA basketball ended with LSU in favor, with a final score of 102-85. As the confetti rained down on the Tigers, the Hawkeyes made their way off the court and onlooking fans immediately took to the internet. 

Comments on actions from LSU’s All-American sophomore forward Angel Reese surfaced nearly simultaneously to the conclusion of the game. 

Reese is being downed for her celebrations nearing the end of the game, after copying a celebration by Iowa’s phenom Caitlin Clark, and criticism of Reese’s personal character, aside from her ability in basketball, took collegiate basketball by storm. 

Clark took to defending Reese to Iowa fans criticizing her actions in the championship.

Men have always had trash talk. You should be able to play with that emotion, that’s how every girl should continue to play.”

— Iowa guard Caitlin Clark

“I don’t think Angel should be criticized at all,” Clark said in an interview with CBS Sports. “I think everybody knew there was going to be a little trash talk in the entire tournament, it’s not just me and Angel.”

After being berated during her post-game press conference regarding the incident, Clark continued to praise LSU for the job well done in the game.“All the credit in the world to LSU,” Clark said. “They were tremendous, they deserve it. They had a tremendous season.”

Aside from trash talk on the hardwood, tension rose even more when First Lady Jill Biden invited both the champions from Baton Rouge and the runners up from Iowa. 

Historically, the championship winning team is invited to the country capital to visit the president, however, the same invite has not been extended to the runner up team and Jill Biden is receiving backlash from the Tigers for doing so.

“Congratulations to both teams. So, I know we’ll have the champions come to the White House, we always do. So, we’ll have LSU come,” Jill Biden said in a news conference with Colorado Governor Jared Polis. “But you know what, I’m going to tell Joe (Biden), I think Iowa should come too. They played such a good game, right? So, winners and losers, that’s sportsmanship, that’s good sportsmanship.”

After hearing of the announcement of the FLOTUS’ desire to have both teams on the visit, freshman breakout star from LSU, Flau’jae Johnson, took to Twitter and re-posted the first lady’s announcement with the caption “If we lost, would we be invited? That’s all I’m asking.”

Multiple other players from the team also voiced their issue with Biden’s comment. 

Reese took to her own Twitter page, calling Biden’s announcement a “joke”. 

Since the backlash presented, Jill Biden has backed down from her want for both teams to attend. Jill’s press secretary, Vanessa Valdivia, clarified in a statement that the invite was meant to honor the women athletes in lieu of their historic game, and that the White House is excited to host LSU on their visit. 

Despite the apology, LSU remains hurt by the ordeal.

They will tell you how they feel, talk trash on the floor. You have to be a very strong coach to coach this many personalities.”

— LSU Head Coach Kim Mulkey

“I don’t accept that, I’m not going to lie to you. I don’t accept that apology because she said what she said,” Reese said during an appearance on the “I Am Athlete” podcast. “You can’t go back on certain things that you say. You felt that they should have come because of ‘sportsmanship,’ right? (Iowa) can have that spotlight. We’ll go to the Obama’s. We’ll see Michelle. We’ll see Barack.”

Through all the turmoil surrounding the game, both teams are proud of their seasons, and their accomplishments in the end, and are brushing away any backlash received from the media. 

“I waste no time on social media. I have accounts, but I don’t touch them, my [assistant coaches] do it for me,” LSU Head Coach Kim Mulkey said in her NCAA post-game conference. “They told me our tickets were more expensive than the men’s tickets. Talk to me along those lines, I like that, but I don’t care about social media.”