The Iowa Hawkeyes and LSU Tigers seemed to be set for an instant classic in the national championship game of the 2023 women’s NCAA basketball tournament. The game was played with incredible intensity from the opening tip, with the superstars on both sides putting up amazing performances and bench players like Jasmine Carson enjoying a national coming out party on the sport’s biggest stage.
LSU defeated Iowa, 102-85, to earn its first national championship in program history. It was a great game that should have been even better. Instead of talking about Caitlin Clark’s world-class shot-making or Angel Reese’s monstrous rebounding, most fans were talking about the refs after the game.
The refs called 37 fouls throughout the game, a new record for any game in the women’s NCAA tournament, with many of the best players on both sides battling foul trouble and missing valuable game time because of it. Clark — the singular star of college basketball — was whistled for a ridiculous technical foul at the end of the third quarter, while LSU head coach Kim Mulkey berated the officials without penalty.
Clark was called for a technical foul for tossing the ball behind her back after a foul call on a teammate:
Technical fouls also count as personal fouls, and this one was Clark’s fourth. Iowa pulled her out of the game after it happened, but the Hawkeyes also had other problems. Co-stars Monika Czinano and McKenna Warnock also had four fouls into the fourth quarter, with Czinano eventually fouling out.
While the refs took the sport’s biggest star off the floor because of a silly foul call, the LSU coach Mulkey walked all over the court throughout the game and never received a technical. At one point, Mulkey even made physical contact with an official with no penalty.
Everyone was in disbelief that Mulkey didn’t earn a T:
Truly can’t believe that technical. Mulkey has been the 6th LSU player on the court THE ENTIRE game and the refs look the other way… the best player in the country, having a historic tournament, tosses the ball away and you T her up for her 4th foul.
Just mind boggling.
— nick wright (@getnickwright) April 2, 2023
How did Clark get a technical but Kim Mulkey — who has been literally on the court for most of the game — has not??
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) April 2, 2023
Kim Mulkey has walked all over the court and all over the officials and hasn’t managed to get a technical fouls. This has been wild.
— M.A. Voepel (@MAVoepel) April 2, 2023
The refs also called a horrible foul on LSU’s Angel Reese in the first half. Reese was called for three fouls in the first half and had to be careful the rest of the game.
This game broke the record for the most fouls in a championship by 10 fouls. Ten!
The 37 fouls called today is an NCAA tournament record for a single game. 10 more than previous record in a title game, and one more than previous record for the tournament.
— Nancy Armour (@nrarmour) April 2, 2023
While the refs ruined the flow of the game, LSU was playing at such a high level that it may not have mattered. The Tigers set a record for the most points scored in a national title game, and were on fire shooting from the field throughout the game.
LSU shot 11-of-17 from three-point range, and 54.3 percent from the field. Carson scored a team-high 22 points off the bench, while Alexis Morris had 21 points. Reese, LSU’s biggest star, had 15 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and three steals in a tremendous all-around performance.
Reese was taunting Clark throughout the game. Clark had been doing the “I can’t feel my face” move throughout March Madness, and Reese gave it right back to her:
While the LSU players were fun to root for and likable, not everyone is happy to see Mulkey get another championship ring.
Kim Mulkey said fans should punch critics in the face when Art Briles and Baylor had 52 sexual assault accusations in a 4-year period.
Congrats to the LSU players.
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) April 2, 2023
The women’s NCAA basketball tournament was awesome. But please, refs, let the players play, and don’t let the coaches walk all over you.