Postgame: LSU's star players reflect on loss to Iowa

On3 imageby:Matthew Brune04/01/24


LSU lost to Iowa on Monday night 94-87 in Albany, New York, ending the season 31-6 overall after a year filled with drama, high expectations, injuries, and everything in between. The Tigers fell short of getting back to a Final Four, but still end the season in the Elite Eight after another strong season.

Here’s everything LSU players Angel Reese, Flau’Jae Johnson, and Hailey Van Lith said after the loss.

Q. Angel, I know it hurts now, but you had mentioned just kind of what a wild ride this team has been on for the last year. Can you kind of describe what it’s meant to you, what it’s been like for you, both the positives and the negatives?

ANGEL REESE: Yeah, we’ve seen everything this year. We have been through so much adversity. I’m more than proud of this team. We don’t have that much depth. We have some injuries. I took some time away from the team.

So many things happened this year, so many things hit us, and we never folded. Just being able to come out tonight and give our all for 40 minutes, we came up short, but we have to keep our heads high.

Q. Angel, we saw you go into — fell into the cameras in the second quarter. Did you twist your ankle, and did that affect you for the rest of the game?

ANGEL REESE: Yeah, I did roll my ankle on one of the cameras. I’m tough, so I tried to play through it, of course, and this is something that has been going on for a little while now. But I played through it, and I’m not going to make that excuse for the rest of my play for the game.

Q. What a tough cover Caitlin is. Obviously you were fighting all night. Just the challenge that she presents.

HAILEY VAN LITH: Yeah, Caitlin is very skilled. She’s a great player. She hit some tough shots. There’s not a whole lot you can do about some of the threes she hit.

I think the team around her that plays a role, they did a good job of executing their role. Ultimately they played better than us, and that’s what it was.

Q. Flau’jae, going off that last question, you had a few possessions against Caitlin down in the fourth quarter, you were able to force some turnovers, force some misses. What went into taking on that matchup and trying to help spark a run?

FLAU’JAE JOHNSON: I mean, we studied her film. I think my length kind of bothered her. I’m aggressive. I just wasn’t scared. When you play a player like that, you’ve got to look them in the eyes and really take on that challenge.

Just tried to force her to her left. I know she wanted to step back, and my length can bother her a little bit, but I’ve got to be better.

Q. Flau’jae, if I could hear you on Angel and the type of leadership that she’s provided for this team. And, Angel, could you talk me through what it meant to see what Flau’jae was able to do in a game like this, put up 23 points and be a factor on both ends?

FLAU’JAE JOHNSON: Man, let me tell you something. Everybody can have their opinion on Angel Reese, but y’all don’t know her. Y’all don’t know Angel Reese. I know Angel Reese. I know the real Angel Reese, and the person I see every day is a strong person, is a caring, loving person. But the crown she wears is heavy. She’s the type of teammate that’s going to make you believe in yourself.

The leap that I took to my freshman to sophomore year, Angel gave me that confidence to go be a dog, playing next to a dog every day, just to see how the media ridicule her. Went through our problems, but this is my sister right here, and I’m so proud of her.

The media, y’all, how they like to twist and call it a villain and all that, y’all don’t know Angel. I’m just happy that I get to play with her. I get to be around her presence. Her energy is different. She just makes me a better player. She makes me a better player, and that’s what great players do.

HAILEY VAN LITH: I’ll say something, too. I think Angel is one of the toughest people I’ve been around. People speak hate into her life. I’ve never seen people wish bad things on someone as much as her, and it does not affect her. She comes to practice every day. She lives her life every day. She lives how she wants to live, and she don’t let nobody change that.

That’s the key to life right there. Y’all do not get to her. Let me say it again. Y’all do not get to Angel Reese. So you might want to throw the towel in because you’re wasting your energy. Angel is one of the toughest people I’ve been around.

Q. Angel, do you have any thoughts on your future plans in basketball?

ANGEL REESE: I’ll make a decision when I’m ready.

Q. The third quarter, what do you think kind of went wrong there? Seemed like you were a little snake bit, balls rolled off the rim and some tough turnovers?

FLAU’JAE JOHNSON: Yeah, that’s pretty much it. They outscored us in the third quarter. I think that was just experience, turnovers, like you said. I’ll take that on the chin. I feel like I’ve got to be better just communicating with my team better, getting us into the offense better. I’ve got to be better.

I think as a team, that third quarter kind of went under, never came back up per se. But it was small mistakes. Those everyday things we do in practice that — bad pass here, turnover here, defense, missed execution, transition. So it’s going to be things that we’ve got to clean up when we take that on the chin.

Q. Angel, when you fouled out you walked over to the sideline and you put your arm around Flau’jae and Flau’jae put her arm around you, what did you guys say in that moment, and what was that moment like for you both?

ANGEL REESE: Yeah, just telling her just to keep leading the team and don’t give up and keep fighting. Flau’jae has done a great job when I’m down and not having my best game. Being able to have a player, a teammate like Flau’jae as a sophomore, only a sophomore, step up and lead the team through everything. She’s led the team throughout the whole year. We’ve had that relationship, and just being able to talk to her in that moment was great.

FLAU’JAE JOHNSON: Yeah, just like she said, she was just holding me accountable. I was telling her, cheer us on. Cheer us on, keep us going. That’s all I could do right there.

Q. Angel, what was going through your mind as you heard your two teammates right here take the opportunity to stand up for you and what your journey has been like that we don’t get to see?

ANGEL REESE: I don’t really get to stand up for myself. I mean, I have great teammates. I have a great support system. I’ve got my hometown. I’ve got my family that stands up for me. I don’t really get to speak out on things because I just ignore. I just try to stand strong.

I’ve been through so much. I’ve seen so much. I’ve been attacked so many times, death threats, I’ve been sexualized, I’ve been threatened, I’ve been so many things, and I’ve stood strong every single time.

I just try to stand strong for my teammates because I don’t want them to see me down and not be there for them. I just want to always know, I’m still a human. All this has happened since I won the National Championship, and I said the other day (indiscernible) happy since then. And it sucks, but I still wouldn’t change. I wouldn’t change anything, and I would still sit here and say I’m unapologetically me. I’m going to always leave that mark and be who I am and stand on that. And hopefully the little girls that look up to me, and hopefully I give them some type of inspiration that know hopefully it’s not this hard and all the things that come at you, but keep being who you are, keep waking up every day, keep being motivated, staying who you are, stand ten toes, don’t back down, and just be confident.

Q. What is the impact of the LSU-Iowa rivalry on women’s basketball?

ANGEL REESE: I think it’s just great for the sport, just being able to be a part of history. Like I said, no matter which way it went tonight, I know this was going to be a night for the ages. And just being able to be a part of history is great. Playing against another great player, of course, is always amazing, and our viewership going up. And I’m sure so many different people watched us tonight. I’m happy to be here, I’m happy to keep raising women’s sports, not just women’s basketball but women’s sports in general.

FLAU’JAE JOHNSON: Yeah, it’s good for the game. Women’s basketball has gone to new heights. I’m happy to be a part of it. Just happy to be a part of it. It’s not all the time you get to see players like Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese. I’m just blessed. Last year I was a freshman seeing everything. This year I’m a sophomore able to contribute. Next year I’m going to leave my mark, grow the game.

HAILEY VAN LITH: Yeah, like they said, it’s an honor to be a part of it. It was an honor to be in that moment. The best thing about rivalries is they don’t end. LSU and Iowa will play each other again, and we’ll have another opportunity.

Q. Angel, it seemed like you had a nice exchange with Caitlin in the handshake line. Do you mind sharing what you told her?

ANGEL REESE: Yeah, she just told me, continue to be a great player, and I told her continue to be a great player, as well, and keep elevating the game and go win it.

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