Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (L) totaled 41 points, eight assists and six rebounds in a win over South Carolina on Friday in Dallas. Photo by Brian Ray/HawkeyeSports.com
March 31 (UPI) -- Caitlin Clark scored 41 points to lead Iowa over undefeated South Carolina for a spot in the 2023 women's basketball tournament title game Friday in Dallas. The Hawkeyes will meet LSU, who ousted Virginia Tech.
"We had nothing to lose," Clark said on the ESPN broadcast after the 77-73 triumph at the American Airlines Center.
"I had all the confidence in the world in this group and I know they believe in me."
Clark, the national player of the year, logged eight assists and six rebounds, in addition to her national semifinal record point total. She scored the final 11 points for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa will battle LSU in the 2023 NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament finale Sunday in Dallas.
The Gamecocks out-rebounded the Hawkeyes 49-25 in Friday's loss, but allowed their foes to make 49.1% of their shots and couldn't corral Clark.
Hawkeyes senior forward Monika Czinano chipped in 18 points. Gamecocks senior guard Zia Cooke scored 24 points in the loss.
Neither team scored for the first two minutes of the contest. Clark helped the Hawkeyes start the game with an 8-2 run. The Hawkeyes ended the quarter with a 9-2 run and held a 22-13 edge through the first 10 minutes.
The Gamecocks outscored the Hawkeyes 24-16 in the second, but trailed 38-37 at the break. Clark scored 19 points in the first half.
The Hawkeyes outscored the Gamecocks 39-36 in the second half. Raven Johnson and Aliyah Boston scored on consecutive possessions to start the fourth quarter, giving the Gamecocks a 60-59 lead with 9:10 remaining.
Clark responded with a 3-pointer 15 seconds later and the Hawkeyes never trailed again.
Earlier Friday, senior guard Alexis Morris scored a game-high 27 points to lead LSU to a 79-72 win over Virginia Tech at the American Airlines Center. Sophomore forward Angel Reese totaled 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Tigers.
The Tigers shot 47.1% from the floor and held the Hokies to a shooting percentage of 40.1%. They also forced 18 turnovers.
Morris scored eight in the first quarter and the Tigers carried a 16-13 lead into the second. The Hokies then outscored the Tigers 21-16 over the next 10 minutes and led 34-32 at the break.
The Hokies started the third on a 9-2 run to push their edge to nine points. That advantage later grew to a dozen.
The Tigers answered by outscoring the Hokies 29-13 down the stretch for a comeback victory. They started the fourth quarter on a 22-3 run and never looked back. Reese and Morris totaled 10 points apiece over the final 10 minutes.
Tigers forward LaDazhia Williams logged 16 points and seven rebounds in the win. Senior center Elizabeth Kitley led the Hokies with 18 points and 12 rebounds,
Iowa will meet LSU in the title game at 3:30 p.m. EDT Sunday in Dallas. The game will air on ABC.