LSU's successful and turbulent year ended one game short of another Final Four.

Albany — For now, LSU women's basketball's wild year is done. The defending national champion Tigers (31-6) lost 94-87 to Iowa on Monday night, almost a year after defeating the Hawkeyes and star Caitlin Clark for the crown.  

Coach Kim Mulkey and her players created headlines on and off the court and became symbols for a new generation of collegiate stars, led by star forward Angel Reese. No matter how it ended tonight, I know this was going to be a night for the ages,” said Reese, who had 17 points, 20 rebounds, and four assists despite spraining her right ankle in the first half. “And just being part of history is great.”  

The 6-foot-3 junior, who hasn't decided whether to return, also addressed the negatives that have surrounded her since she emerged as a trash-talking, unapologetic, gifted baller during last year's tournament. “I’ve been through so much,” Reese cried. “I’ve seen lots. After many attacks, death threats, sexualization, threats, and more, I've always stood strong.”  

Mulkey punished Reese for four games after a season-opening loss to No. 3 Colorado in Las Vegas for unspecified basketball-related conduct. Guard Alexis Morris and forward LaDazhia Williams graduated from LSU's national title squad. Mulkey added elite players like Mikaylah Williams, Hailey Van Lith from Louisville, and Aneesah Morrow from DePaul.  

“I've never seen people wish bad things on someone as much as her, and it doesn't affect her,” Van Lith remarked. “She practices daily. She lives daily. She doesn't allow anyone modify her lifestyle. The key to life is there.”  

Despite falling to unbeaten South Carolina in the SEC Tournament championship, the Tigers had a good season. They entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed hoping to become the first back-to-back champions since UConn won four straight in 2016.  

Mulkey remained controversial. The four-time national champion coach threatened to sue The Washington Post over an unpublished feature of her during the tournament. However, her criticism of the Los Angeles Times for portraying her players as villains was met with sympathy. The writer apologized after the newspaper modified the column.

All of Mulkey's players can return next year, although it's unlikely. Flau'jae Johnson, a sophomore guard who scored 23 points against Iowa, said she and others who return will learn from Monday's loss.  

Johnson said players like Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese are rare. Just blessed. Last year I saw everything as a freshman. As a sophomore, I can help. Next year I'll make an impact and grow the game." Mulkey stated her squad has promoted women's basketball.  

We've changed, people. There have been many positive changes, she noted. “Many of these young people won a championship last year and will remember tonight's greatness. It's hard to express how good women's basketball is. I wanted this matchup at the Final Four. Wow. Was good for an Elite Eight game  

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