It wasn’t pretty but it was a win — and no, we’re not just talking about LSU coach Kim Mulkey’s outfit.
Mulkey’s Tigers got 13 points and 18 rebounds from All-American Angel Reese and third-seeded LSU beat upset-minded Miami, 54-42, to advance to the Final Four.
It’s the first Final Four since 2008 for LSU. From 2005-2008 the Tigers made five consecutive trips to the Final Four, losing in national semifinals each time.
Helping LSU back to college basketball’s promised land is exactly why Mulkey went home. A Louisiana native who returned to the state in 2021 to lead the state’s flagship university, she brought an impressive resume to Baton Rouge. In 21 seasons at Baylor, Mulkey went to four Final Fours and won three national titles. As a player at Louisiana Tech, she led the Lady Techsters to two national titles and four Final Fours.
The Tigers won 26 games last season as Mulkey, who’s known for her fiery demeanor and sparkly sideline outfits — she wore a somewhat understated (for her) glittery tweed blazer Sunday — won Associated Press coach of the year honors.
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Mulkey transformed her team this year with the addition of Reese, a standout at Maryland the last two years who’s taken her game to another level at LSU. Reese had a double-double — her 32nd of the season, best in the nation — by the middle of the third quarter. Miami had no answer for her.
The Hurricanes were one of the feel-good stories of the tournament, coming back from a 17-point deficit in their opening game against eighth-seeded Oklahoma State. Then they stunned No. 1 Indiana on the Hoosiers’ home floor before sending Villanova and superstar Maddy Siegrist packing to advance and play LSU. It was the program’s first Elite Eight appearance.
Guard Jasmyne Roberts led Miami with 22 points, but it took her 20 shots to get there. No one else for the Hurricanes scored more than 4 points. The Tigers’ leading scorer was Alexis Morris, who had 19.
LSU built as much as a 16-point lead before Miami made a late push to cut it to eight, 43-35. The Hurricanes held the Tigers’ scoreless for more than four minutes, but couldn’t capitalize on the other end.