Sunday, April 7, 2024

Women's Final

Well, here we go:

(1) S. Carolina (37-0) v. (2) Iowa (34-4) (2 PM Central on ABC)

Here are the likely starters for South Carolina:

Chloe Kitts, F (6' 2") (Sophomore) (Oviedo, Fla.)
Kamilla Cardoso, C (6' 7") (Senior) (Montes Claros, BRAZIL)
Bree Hall, G (6' 0") (Junior) (Dayton, Ohio)
Raven Johnson, G (5' 9") (Sophomore) (Atlanta)
Te-Hina Paopao, G (5' 9") (Senior) (Oceanside, Calif.)

Here are the likely starters for Iowa:

Hannah Stuelke, F (6' 2") (Sophomore) (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Sydney Affolter, G (5' 11") (Junior) (Chicago)
Caitlin Clark, G (6' 0") (Senior) (W. Des Moines, Iowa)
Gabbie Marshall, G (5' 9") (Fifth Year) (Cincinnati)
Kate Martin, G (6' 0") (Grad Student) (Edwardsville, Ill.)

South Carolina is favored by 6 1/2 points, and the over/under is 157 1/2.  That would come out to something like South Carolina 82, Iowa 76.

There is really nothing more to say about this game, which will go down in history as one of the most famous college sporting events of all time.


  1. In baseball, Kentucky sweeps Alabama and moves to 11-1 in SEC play.

  2. This game feels like one of those famous college football games from the 1960's, like USC/UCLA in 1967 or Texas/Arkansas in 1969. It doesn't feel like a modern game -- it feels like something legendary from the past.

  3. There's just no way out for either team. Whichever team wins will be ecstatic. Whichever team loses will be devastated.

  4. S. Carolina 9 - 20 Iowa (4:45 left in 1st quarter)

    Clark starts off on fire. She hits two three's, and is fouled shooting two other three's. She has 13 points already. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks haven't yet figured out how to attack Iowa's zone. Cardoso has 4 points, but she is 2-5. And Iowa has matched Carolina in rebounds, 7 to 7.

  5. S. Carolina 20 - 27 Iowa (end of 1st quarter)

    Clark is 3-4 from three-point range, and she has 18 points already. If you're a Kentucky fan, this game feels a lot like that 2015 game between Wisconsin and UK. In that game, Wisconsin jumped out to a 21-14 lead after 10 minutes. Kentucky decided not to get into a running game with Wisconsin, and played a game with only 58 possessions. The Cats slowed down the Badgers, and led 60 to 56 with 5:16 left, but were blitzed 15-4 down the stretch. UK's efforts to hold back the Badger offense ultimately broke down, as Wisconsin scored 1.22 points per possession.

    Now Carolina has to make the same choice. Do they want to run with Iowa, or will they try to slow them down? For nine years, I have thought that UK made a mistake -- that we should have tried to outscore Wisconsin, the way we outscored Indiana in 2012. I'm very interested to see what Carolina will do.

  6. S. Carolina 36 - 36 Iowa (4:11 left in 2d quarter)

    Dawn Staley has gone to her bench. She's put in Milaysia Fulwiley, a 5' 10" freshman guard from Columbia, S.C. She's put in Tessa Johnson, a 6' 1" freshman guard from Albertville, Minn. Fulwiley has 7 points, and Tessa Johnson has 9 points, and they have brought the Gamecocks back into this game.

  7. S. Carolina 44 - 44 Iowa (1 minute left in 2d quarter)

    This is great stuff from both teams.

  8. S. Carolina 49 - 46 Iowa (Halftime)

    Huge sequence at the end of the half. Down 46-44, Te-Hina Paopao made her third three-pointer of the game to put the Gamecocks up by one. And then, as Clark was apparently setting up for the last shot, Raven Johnson stole the ball and got a layup at the other end. Carolina has taken one haymaker after another from the Hawkeyes, and they still have a three-point lead at the half.

  9. IOWA:
    9-23 from 2-point range (39.1 percent)
    6-10 from 3-point range (60.0 percent)
    10-11 from the line (90.9 percent)
    46 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 turnovers

    16-34 from 2-point range (47.1 percent)
    5-11 from 3-point range (45.5 percent)
    2-5 from the line (40.0 percent)
    49 points, 27 rebounds, 4 turnovers

  10. Clark is 4-6 from 3-point range, but only 2-8 from 2-point range. Raven Johnson is giving her problems, and she only had 3 points in the second quarter.

  11. S. Carolina 55 - 46 Iowa (7:59 left in 3d quarter)

    As I thought it might, that momentum from the end of the first half carries over. Carolina scores six points in a row, and Iowa calls time.

  12. S. Carolina 57 - 53 Iowa (4:56 left in 3d quarter)

    Marshall hits a three-pointer, and Stuelke gets a transition basket, as Iowa chips away.

  13. S. Carolina 68 - 57 Iowa (1:06 left in 3d quarter)

    Tessa Johnson is having the game I wanted Devin Booker to have against Wisconsin back in 2015. She is 3-5 from 3-point range, she has 15 points, and she has staked the Gamecocks to their biggest lead of the game.

  14. S. Carolina 68 - 59 Iowa (end of 3d quarter)

    Iowa only scored 13 points in the third quarter, as the Carolina defense is getting stronger and stronger. Clark has 25 points, but she is only 4-10 from 3-point range. In fact, while Iowa is 7-19 from behind the arc, Carolina is 8-16.

  15. S. Carolina 78 - 72 Iowa (4:39 left)

    At one point, the Gamecocks were up 76-62, but Iowa has gone on a 10-2 run since then. Clark now up to 30 points, but Tessa Johnson has 19.

  16. S. Carolina 87 - 75 Iowa (Final)

    Iowa closed to within 80 to 75 with 3 minutes left, and they had the ball, but Katie Martin was called for a travel, and the Gamecocks pulled away after that. After the first quarter, South Carolina dominated Iowa -- outscoring the Hawkeyes 67-48. Clark finished with 30 points, but she was 5-15 from 2-point range and 5-13 from 3-point range, and Iowa needed more from her than that.

    Congratulations to Dawn Staley and the South Carolina Gamecocks, who are truly deserving champions.

  17. Final thought on Caitlin Clark. I think she's ultimately more like Pete Maravich than Larry Bird. But if I were giving her advice, I would tell her to try to base her game on Stephen Curry -- to me, that's the player whose game reminds me the most of hers.

  18. South Carolina was a tremendous champion--with key individual performances from Cardoso, who at times played that bruising, dominant center style that is just so satisfying, and Raven Johnson, whose defense from the second quarter on kept Clark from ever really taking flight.

    The NBA comparison this game reminded me of was the last few Pistons teams to beat the Bulls. Raven Johnson looked like Joe Dumars defending Michael Jordan. Over those losses from 1988 to 1990, the Bulls kept putting together that tremendous cast around Jordan and figuring out their roles, and Jordan kept studying how to beat Dumars. And then they turned into one of the great individual players and teams of all time. I thought Sunday's game looked like about 1989 of that rivalry. Of course, that's where the comparison ends because this is college basketball and everything changes with players moving on to the pros. Also, Iowa actually had beaten South Carolina last season, so it hadn't followed the same arc to now. But the very moment of watching Sunday's game felt like intersecting with watching Dumars and the Pistons finish Jordan and the Bulls in about 1989.

    I actually do think that Clark might dominate the WNBA for a decade or so. I think it's so much bothering Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Lynette Woodard and all of the others that this might be true, in fact, that they all are trying to tell each other and everyone else that it couldn't possibly be true. Of course, Clark has to end up in the right situation in terms of front office and teammates around her, and she has to stay healthy--and maybe nobody will really pay much attention, anyway, because it would require them dialing in to women's professional basketball in the summer.

    But I don't know. I certainly didn't foresee all of this happening over the last couple of years with her and Iowa and the interest (higher ratings than the World Series, NBA Finals, some NFL, etc.) Maybe it really will happen with Clark and the WNBA over the next decade. She's a blast to watch, and she does seem to have the right mindset and personality for the job.