LSU’s Angel Reese: No hate, only fierce competition with Iowa’s Caitlin Clark

By Thomson Reuters Mar 31, 2024 | 1:00 PM

There’s no personal animosity between college basketball stars Caitlin Clark of Iowa and Angel Reese of LSU, just highly intense competition, they said going into the much-anticipated rematch of their teams on Monday night in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.

“I think people just take it like we hate each other,” Reese said Sunday in Albany, N.Y. “Me and Caitlin Clark don’t hate each other. I want everybody to understand that. It’s just a super-competitive game. Once I get between those lines, there’s no friends. I’m going to talk trash to you. I’m going to do whatever it takes to get in your head the whole entire game, but after the game, we can kick it. I don’t think people really realize that.”

Defending champion LSU (31-5), the third seed in the Albany 2 region, and top seed Iowa (32-4) each won Saturday to set up a rematch of the 2023 national title game, won by the Tigers 102-85.

Reese, who had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds in that contest, had punctuated her trash talking by pointing her finger at Clark and mimicking pro wrestler John Cena’s “You can’t see me” hand gesture as the game concluded.

Reese and Clark, who had made the same gesture at opponents in earlier games, became a hot topic in national discourse over their perceived rivalry and relationship.

“There’s definitely that competitive fire,” said Clark, who has scored a record 3,859 points in her standout career. “Both of us want to win more than anything, and that’s how it should be when you’re a competitor and you get into a situation like this, whether it was the national championship, whether it’s the Elite Eight.

“I think that’s the main similarity is how competitive we are. We both grew up loving this game, and we’re going to do anything we can to help our teams win.”

The championship was the most-viewed NCAA women’s basketball game on record with 9.9 million viewers on ABC and ESPN2. Monday’s region final, which is on ESPN, has again turned attention to these players.

“Anytime you have a chance to go up against somebody you lost to, it brings a little more energy,” Clark had said on Saturday. “I think overall, it’s just going to be a really great game for women’s basketball.”

Reese also took the perspective that it’s about growing the game and getting people to watch, even if it means that she’s viewed as the antagonist for her actions.

“That’s fine. I’ll take the villain role,” Reese said. “I’ll take the hit for it, but I know we’re growing women’s basketball. If this is the way we’re going to do it, then this is the way we’re going to do it. You either like it or you don’t.”

–Field Level Media