The LSU Tigers won the women’s college basketball championship in Dallas on Sunday, 102-85, against Iowa. The victory marks the first basketball title for the Tigers in team history. The Tigers’ run to the championship comes after struggling for the past few years.
The big coaching change for LSU
In 2021, LSU was coming off a 9-13 record in the shortened season. The team finished eighth in the conference and did not look too good. In April, head coach Nikki Fargas resigned to become the president of the Las Vegas Aces one month later.
On April 26, 2021, LSU hired Kim Mulkey as the new head coach for the women’s basketball team. In her previous tenure with the Baylor Lady Bears, Mulkey won 632 games in 21 years with the school. In addition, Mulkey won three national championships with Baylor, including an undefeated 40-0 record in the 2011-12 season.
Despite her success at Baylor, Mulkey came to Baton Rouge with some big questions. In particular, Mulkey’s relationship with former Lady Bears star Brittney Griner deteriorated while they were at Baylor. Moreover, in her final season at Baylor, Mulkey made some controversial statements about COVID-19 testing for the Final Four.
Current LSU forward Angel Reese talks about coach Mulkey and the need for her coaching style.
Mulkey’s Tenure so far at LSU
Before the 2021-22 season for the Tigers, the team had 7 players transfer to different schools. LSU, however, got talented guard Alexis Morris in the transfer portal from Texas A&M. As a result of their performance the previous season, LSU was unranked to start the year. Despite this, LSU won 17 of their first 19 games to start the season to move up to number 11 in the rankings.
They entered the NCAAW Tournament as a three-seed and beat Jackson State in the first round. Their tournament run would be stopped in the second round with a 15-point loss to Ohio State. In their first season with Mulkey in charge, LSU improved from 9 wins to 26.
LSU Tigers Championship Season
Before the 2022-23 season began, LSU picked up Reese as a transfer from Maryland. The team lost both their leading scorer, Khayla Pointer, and their leading rebounder, Autumn Newby from the previous year. LSU’s goal now was to compete for the national championship. They started the season very strong, as they won their first 23 games.
Going into the NCAAW tournament, LSU finished with a record of 28-2 and as a three seed. The Tigers swept through the first two rounds with wins by over 20 points each. They faced a tough test against the two-seed Utah Utes. The game went down to the wire, but four made free throws by Morris and two missed free throws by the Utes allowed LSU to sneak out with a 3-point win. In the elite eight, LSU held Miami to 42 points in a 12-point win by the Tigers.
With the win against Miami, LSU made the final four for the first time since 2008. The Tigers took on number-one seed Virginia Tech and beat them by 79-72. In that game, Morris led the Tigers with 27 points, while Resse had 24 points and 12 rebounds.
In the finals, LSU completed their three-season turnaround with a championship win over Iowa. Coach Mulkey credits the growth for the team from last year in “feeding this monster” for the Tigers championship win.