Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, left, drives against Colorado guard Jaylyn Sherrod during Saturday’s Sweet 16 in Albany, N.Y. Clark and the Hawkeyes won, 89-68. Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. — Let the hype begin.

Caitlin Clark had 29 points and 15 assists to lead top-seeded Iowa to an 89-68 win over fifth-seeded Colorado in the women’s NCAA Tournament on Saturday, setting up a rematch of last year’s national title game against LSU.

“I think we’re excited. Anytime you have a chance to go up against somebody you lost to, it brings a little more energy,” Clark said. “I think overall it’s just going to be a really great game for women’s basketball. They’re really solid one through five. We know we are going to have to rebound the basketball.”

The Tigers, who beat the Hawkeyes in the championship game a year ago, topped UCLA in Saturday’s earlier semifinal in the Albany 2 Region. The teams will play Monday night.

“I think everyone’s pretty excited for it,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “These are two really good basketball teams. Unfortunate they are meeting this early. Everyone that’s left now is really good. LSU is certainly that. It’s going to be highly emotional and highly competitive.”

Clark got the Hawkeyes (32-4) going early, driving to the basket for easy layups or throwing fantastic passes. About the only thing missing from Clark’s day was one of her signature midcourt logo shots. She took a couple, but missed.


The NCAA’s all-time Division I scoring leader has dazzled off the court as well. She’s a transcendent player who has brought record ratings and attendance to the sport. The sold-out crowd was filled with girls and boys wearing No. 22 Iowa shirts who cheered at every play their favorite player made. Clark spent a few minutes after the buzzer signing autographs before she went back to the locker room.

Clark threaded the needle with a beautiful bounce pass to Hannah Stuelke for a layup before the end of the first quarter that gave the Hawkeyes a 22-14 lead. Clark had six points, six assists and three rebounds in the opening 10 minutes.

She finished the first half with 15 points and eight assists as the Hawkeyes were up 48-35 at the break.

Iowa scored the first six points of the third quarter and Colorado (24-10) could not get within single digits the rest of the way.

“We had the punch to begin the third quarter,” Bluder said. “Set the tone early in both the halves which was really important.”

The Buffaloes made their first back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16 since the 2002-03. They also were knocked out last year by Iowa, falling 87-77 in the same round.


Aaronette Vonleh scored 13 points and Frida Formann had 12 for the Buffs.

“It is tough. Never want to go out like that,” Colorado’s Jaylyn Sherrod said. “Some things we can all look back at and say we could have done better. Proud of this team.”

LSU’s Flau’jae Johnson, left, and Angel Reese guided the Tigers to a Sweet 16 win against UCLA on Saturday in Albany, N.Y. Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

LSU 78, UCLA 69: Flau’jae Johnson had 24 points and 12 rebounds, Angel Reese put up her 26th double-double of the season and LSU beat UCLA  in the Sweet 16 in Albany, New York, to continue its quest for a second straight national title.

Reese had 16 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out late in the game for the Tigers, who closed the game on a 14-2 run. Aneesah Morrow had 17 points and Mikaylah Williams added 12.

LSU advanced to the Elite Eight, where it will face Iowa in Monday night’s regional final.

Lauren Betts had 14 points and 17 rebounds for UCLA, which finished the season at 27-7. Londynn Jones and Gabriela Jaquez also had 14 points apiece and Kiki Rice scored 13 for the Bruins.


LSU led by seven points at halftime, but after making just two of their first 20 shots from 3-point range, the Bruins hit four of their next five.

Consecutive 3-pointers from Jones keyed an 11-2 run that gave UCLA the lead at 45-44, and the teams were tied at 48 headed into the fourth quarter.

But the Tigers closed the game on a run of their own after trailing 67-64 with 2:46 left.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 74, BAYLOR 70: Freshman All-American JuJu Watkins drove the length of the floor for a go-ahead three-point play with 3:13 left and finished with 30 points, leading the Trojans (29-5) past the Bears (26-8) in Portland, Oregon, and into the Elite Eight of the women’s NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1994.

Watkins scored nine straight points for the Trojans in the closing minutes and powered a decisive 8-0 run. McKenzie Forbes added 14 points for USC, which will face third-seeded UConn on Monday in the Portland 3 Region final for a spot in the Final Four.

Sarah Andrews scored 17 points for Baylor, which was making its 20th straight March Madness appearance and was vying for its first Elite Eight spot since 2021, Kim Mulkey’s final season as coach of the Bears.


UCONN 53, DUKE 45: Paige Bueckers scored 24 points to lead the Huskies (31-5) and their injury-depleted roster back to the Elite Eight of the women’s NCAA Tournament with a victory over the Blue Devils (22-12) in Portland, Oregon.

A year after having to watch March Madness while sidelined by a knee injury, Bueckers was again the best player on the floor, lifting the Huskies into their 28th regional final. And this one will be among the more unlikely in Coach Geno Auriemma’s 39-year tenure.

UConn dressed eight players and played only six. But it still has Bueckers, the 2021 national player of the year who has returned to that form after injuries limited or sidelined her for most of the past two seasons.

The Huskies’ victory set up the matchup fans had anticipated since the brackets were released – top seed Southern California against the Huskies on Monday night with Bueckers squaring off against fabulous freshman JuJu Watkins. The 18-year-old Watkins had 30 points in USC’s 74-70 win over Baylor in the other Portland 3 Region semifinal.

Aaliyah Edwards and KK Arnold each scored 12 points for the Huskies, who scored their second-fewest points in a March Madness victory.

Oluchi Okananwa led Duke (22-12) with 15 points and Reigan Richardson added 10, but after ousting No. 2 seed Ohio State in the second round, the Blue Devils disappeared at the offensive end. They scored 13 first-half points and had 27 going to the fourth quarter before a flurry that put a scare into the Huskies.

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