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No. 3 LSU storms past No. 1 Virginia Tech, into national title game

Mar 31, 2023; Dallas, TX, USA; LSU Lady Tigers guard Last-Tear Poa (13) celebrates with forward Angel Reese (10) during a stop in play against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the second half in semifinals of the women's Final Four of the 2023 NCAA Tournament at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

DALLAS — For the first time ever, LSU will play in women’s college basketball’s national championship game.

Angel Reese tallied 24 points and 12 rebounds as the No. 3 Tigers topped No. 1 Virginia Tech in the Final Four on Friday night at the American Airlines Center, 79-72.

It was Reese’s 33rd double-double of the year, which is a single-season record for a player in the Southeastern Conference. Alexis Morris scored 27 points for LSU and LaDazhia Williams had 16 points and seven rebounds.

LSU (33-2) will face the winner of No. 1 South Carolina and No. 2 Iowa. The Tigers lost to the Gamecocks in February by 24 points.

Virginia Tech (31-5) was playing in its first-ever national semifinal. The Hokies were led by Elizabeth Kitley’s double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds. Georgia Amoore scored 17 points and went 4-for-15 from behind the arc, which gave her the record for most 3-pointers made in a single women’s NCAA Tournament with 24.

Kayana Traylor had 17 points and nine rebounds for the Hokies, while Cayla King added 14 points.

LSU led by nine points in the second quarter, but saw that advantage vanish as Virginia Tech embarked on a 28-7 run over waning moments of the second quarter and the beginning stages of the third quarter. Traylor scored all of her points in those two quarters and the Hokies shot 6-of-15 from behind the arc over that stretch.

By halftime, Virginia Tech led 34-32 and had 11 more rebounds than LSU. Reese had just two boards in the game’s first 20 minutes.

Virginia Tech led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter, but then LSU came roaring back in the fourth. The Tigers started the final period on a 22-3 run to take a 72-62 lead with 3:04 to play. Reese and Morris each scored 10 points in the fourth.

The Hokies made just one of their final eight field-goal attempts in the game.

While LSU allowed the Hokies to knock down nine 3-pointers, the Tigers dominated inside, outscoring Virginia Tech 54-14 in the paint. LSU also grabbed 15 offensive rebounds and turned those into 24 second-chance points.

The victory for LSU puts head coach Kim Mulkey back in the national title game for the first time since 2019, when her Baylor Bears beat Notre Dame. Mulkey has never lost in the national championship game once reaching it.

LSU reached the Final Four five seasons in a row from 2004 through 2008 but never advanced to the title game.

–By Mitchell Northam, Field Level Media

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