Baltimore’s own Angel Reese helped LSU make history Sunday, when the Tigers won their first-ever women’s basketball national championship on April 2 in Dallas.
Earlier in the weekend, in the Final Four doubleheader, No. 3-seeded LSU beat No. 1 Virginia Tech 79-72 before No. 2 Iowa took down the overall No. 1 seed, previously undefeated South Carolina. Those results set the stage for a history-making showdown. It was the first appearance in a national title game for both teams.
For Reese, reaching the tournament’s semifinals encompassed having pride for her hometown.
“Man, we’re doing it for the city, man, Baltimore,” Reese said after LSU beat Virginia Tech. “I don’t know if anybody has gotten to the National Championship from Baltimore, I am not sure. But I know so many people have reached out to me – the mayor, the Baltimore Ravens, the Orioles – like everybody’s standing behind me right now.”
Basketball is a family affair for Reese. Her brother Julian is a sophomore forward for Maryland men’s basketball.
Angel Reese becoming a household name
With TV viewership hitting record numbers for the 2023 Final Four, millions saw Reese’s feat. In Dallas, a sellout crowd of 19,482 fans at American Airlines Center in Dallas watched her go to work.
The Maryland sports betting industry likely took notice, too. March revenue numbers are set to be released soon, and the surge of interest in women’s basketball this year could serve as another financial boost.
Now that the tournament is over, Reese’s fans can look forward to at least another year of outstanding performances from the record-breaking star. She’s set to return to LSU for the 2023-24 campaign.
Proving doubters wrong
Reese and her teammates entered March Madness with a chorus of naysayers doubting their ability to go deep into the tournament, citing LSU’s weak non-conference schedule and the chemistry of a team of nine newcomers.
As a transfer from the University of Maryland, Reese already had the experience of playing for an elite team under her belt. The 6-3 forward was a prep star at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore and a two-time Baltimore Sun Player of the Year.
Ranked as the No. 2 recruit in the country, she began her career at Maryland and led the Terrapins to the Sweet 16 in 2022 as the program’s leading scorer. When she decided to leave the state and head to Louisiana, she was the top-ranked player in the transfer portal.
The Sweet 16 at Maryland was just a taste of what was to come for Reese. This season she broke LSU’s consecutive double-double record set by the legendary Sylvia Fowles. Her double-double efforts earned her the Most Outstanding Player Award for the Final Four.
With 15 points and ten rebounds in the title game, she set the NCAA single-season record for double-doubles at 34. Overall, LSU scored the most points in a Women’s Final Four game when the Tigers beat Iowa, 102-85.
“I had so many goals coming into LSU,” Reese said, “but I didn’t think I was going to win a National Championship within my first year at LSU.”
The win marked a fourth championship for Hall of Fame coach Kim Mulkey, who built a powerhouse program at Baylor before returning to her home state to rejuvenate LSU’s women’s basketball.