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Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese’s LSU-Iowa rematch nets a document viewers for ESPN

LSU’s Angel Reese, left, and Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, center, called their Elite Eight game a great event for their sport. Millions of viewers agreed, launching the contest to the top of ESPN’s ratings. Hans Pennink/AP hide caption toggle caption Hans Pennink/AP LSU’s Angel Reese, left, and Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, center, called their Elite

Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese’s LSU-Iowa rematch nets a document viewers for ESPN



LSU’s Angel Reese, left, and Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, middle, referred to as their Elite Eight recreation an excellent occasion for his or her sport. Tens of millions of viewers agreed, launching the competition to the highest of ESPN’s rankings.

Hans Pennink/AP


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Hans Pennink/AP


LSU’s Angel Reese, left, and Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, middle, referred to as their Elite Eight recreation an excellent occasion for his or her sport. Tens of millions of viewers agreed, launching the competition to the highest of ESPN’s rankings.

Hans Pennink/AP

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When the 2 most fascinating basketball groups within the nation tipped off in a win-or-go-home recreation Monday evening, the nation took discover: Iowa and LSU attracted the second-largest viewers for any basketball recreation on ESPN — school or professional — since 2012, the community mentioned.

ESPN says 12.3 million folks watched the rematch of final 12 months’s NCAA girls’s event closing, with a peak viewers of 16.1 million viewers.

“Most-watched school basketball recreation EVER on ESPN platforms,” the community said.

The Elite Eight recreation pitted Iowa and its famous person Caitlin Clark, the most prolific scorer in NCAA historical past, towards LSU and its famous person, Angel Reese, the NCAA’s record holder for double-doubles in a season.

It was the final time the pair will meet in school: Reese mentioned on Wednesday that she is going to flip professional; Clark said the same in February.

“I am leaving school with all the pieces I ever needed: a level, a nationwide championship, and this platform I might by no means think about,” Reese announced on her Instagram account. “That is for the women that appear to be me.”

Hype bloomed round a matchup of NCAA stars

Anticipation for Monday’s recreation was piqued by high-profile tales from big-time newspapers lots of of miles away from Iowa Metropolis and Baton Rouge. The Washington Publish printed a multi-page profile of LSU coach Kim Mulkey, and the Los Angeles Instances issued a much-criticized polemic towards LSU and its gamers (the paper revised the column after it was referred to as racist and sexist).

The one individuals who appeared capable of put the sport into correct perspective have been the gamers themselves.

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“I feel general, it may be a extremely nice recreation for girls’s basketball,” Clark said forward of the rematch.

“Me and Caitlin Clark do not hate one another. I need all people to grasp that. It is only a super-competitive recreation,” Reese said the day before the game.

Elevating the stakes much more: Clark, 22, was recognized to be taking part in her closing school video games, having introduced she’ll flip professional after this season. On Wednesday, Reese mentioned she can also be leaving school.

“This was a tough choice,” Reese mentioned on Instagram. “However I belief the subsequent chapter, as a result of I do know the creator. Bayou Barbie out.”

The Elite Eight lived as much as its identify

When it was lastly time for Iowa and LSU to face off on Monday, the sport rapidly turned a thriller, going into halftime with the rating knotted at 45 factors.

Iowa pulled away on the power of Clark’s 41 factors and 12 assists, prevailing over LSU, 94-87, in MVP Area in Albany, N.Y. Reese fouled out with 17 factors and 20 rebounds.

When you missed it, listed below are the NCAA’s extended highlights:

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YouTube

“I feel it is simply nice for the game, simply with the ability to be part of historical past,” Reese mentioned afterward. “Like I mentioned, regardless of which means it went tonight, I do know this was going to be an evening for the ages. And simply with the ability to be part of historical past is nice.”

The LSU senior, who has but to announce whether or not she is going to flip professional, additionally famous that huge video games like Monday’s are driving viewership.

“I am certain so many alternative folks watched us tonight,” Reese said. “I am blissful to be right here, I am blissful to maintain elevating girls’s sports activities, not simply girls’s basketball however girls’s sports activities basically.”

“I feel being so shut final 12 months, it offers you a bit fireplace and what you might want to do,” Clark said on Tuesday. She added that she’s having fun with the second: “Ladies’s basketball is at its finest proper now and we’re simply fortunate to be part of it.”

The Iowa-LSU rematch wasn’t the one rankings success. ESPN says the ladies’s Elite Eight video games drew a mean of 6.2 million viewers, up 184% from final 12 months. Different huge attracts included UConn’s win over USC and its phenom JuJu Watkins, which had 6.7 million viewers.

“Younger women immediately won’t ever know a time after they could not persistently watch girls’s sports activities and their favourite athletes,” Lindsey Darvin, an assistant professor of sport administration at Syracuse College, said via X, the former Twitter. “They’ll live on in a time the place girls athletes are as huge of — if not greater — stars than the boys.”

Tips on how to watch the Closing 4

The faculty basketball feast continues on Friday, April 5, when the Closing 4 tip off in Cleveland, Ohio.

General No. 1 seed South Carolina faces No. 3 seed N.C. State at 7 p.m. ET, adopted by Iowa going through No. 3 seed UConn at 9:30 p.m. Each video games are on ESPN.

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South Carolina is on a quest to remain undefeated and produce residence a 3rd nationwide championship, relying on stifling protection and clutch taking pictures. Towards N.C. State, they face a crew with stellar guards (Aziaha James and Saniya Rivers) that beat UConn early within the season and perennial energy Stanford on this 12 months’s event.

However as has been the case all season, Clark would be the huge draw. And Friday’s recreation brings her a brand new probability for revenge: Clark’s Hawkeyes lost to UConn within the Candy 16 when she was a freshman.

“The 2 finest girls’s basketball gamers in school, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and UConn’s Paige Bueckers, are set to go head-to-head this Friday,” as NBA legend Magic Johnson said via X, the previous Twitter, saying his plans to observe each video games.

For anybody hoping to see the Closing 4 in particular person, ticket costs are steep. As of Wednesday, resale listings on Ticketmaster and the NCAA’s official companion, AXS, had most spots under the higher degree at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the place the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers play, going for no less than round $1,000 every — and far greater for seats nearer to the hardwood.

The Closing 4 winners will meet on Sunday with the nationwide championship at stake. The sport is slated for 3 p.m., on ABC.

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