The LSU Tigers did something teams of the past couldn’t when they won the program’s first women’s basketball national championship on Sunday.
Despite her sideline (or on-court) antics, head coach Kim Mulkey led the Tigers to a historic turnaround in her first two years with the program.
The season before Mulkey’s arrival, LSU finished 9-13, improving to 26-6 in her first year, the largest turnaround by a first-year coach in Southeastern Conference history. She then followed that up by guiding the Tigers to their first national championship, doing so with a roster full of nine new players made up of transfers and freshmen.
Though many had counted LSU as underdogs in the tournament, with the Tigers given +3000 opening odds to win March Madness and March Madness expert picks mainly favoring Iowa in the title game, LSU proved them wrong.
The Tigers’ strong defense led the way through most of the tournament, allowing 59 points a game, while their offense showed up at the most crucial time, outshooting the Hawkeyes’ No. 1 offense 54.3% to 50%.
LSU was especially strong from beyond the arc, a spot they had previously shot 18.6% from all tournament. Against Iowa, the Tigers finished 11 of 17 from 3-point range, led by Jasmine Carson, who was 5 of 6 from distance.
Although four of LSU’s seniors will now move on, including second-leading scorer Alexis Morris, with Mulkey at the helm, the Tigers’ national championship could be the start of a new era in Baton Rouge.
National Champions – yeah, those National Champions pic.twitter.com/VsICeRrX6v
— LSU Women’s Basketball (@LSUwbkb) April 2, 2023
LSU’s win now puts Mulkey 4-0 in national championship games, with her previous three coming from her time at Baylor. She is also the only women’s basketball coach to win the title with two different teams, and her four wins place her as the third-winningest coach behind UConn’s Geno Auriemma and Tennessee’s Pat Summitt.
Mulkey took Baylor to the NCAAW Tournament in all but one season and she has led the Tigers to a tournament appearance in both her seasons with the school.
Mulkey now has the opportunity to do the same at LSU as she did at Baylor. With the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class joining Angel Reese, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and double-double leader, and Flau’Jae Johnson, the SEC Freshman of the Year, LSU could become a heavy hitter in the SEC and contend for a few more national titles under Mulkey.Next season, however, March Madness predictions likely won’t have the Tigers as an underdog.