Angel Reese, Kim Mulkey and LSU Stay Absent During the National Anthem Leaving Caitlin Clark’s Iowa on the Court

Published 04/01/2024, 8:45 PM EDT

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The regional final game between Iowa Hawkeyes and LSU was bound to create a big divide among basketball fans. But the rift was further extended on Monday as Kim Mulkey and the rest of the LSU team didn’t come out for the national anthem. However, a Baton Rouge Proud reporter (who is also an LSU alumnus) and 2017 report have much to offer to get a nuanced understanding of the case.

Unlike the Tigers who left the court during the anthem, Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes players held hands as The Star-Spangled Banner was played before the Elite Eight game. This difference between Iowa and LSU caught the attention of fans. However, LSU’s coach Kim Mulkey has provided her explanation.

She said, “Honestly, I don’t even know when the anthem was played. We kind of have a routine where we’re on the floor and then they come off at the 12-minute mark. “I don’t know, we come in and we do our pregame stuff.  I’m sorry. Listen, that’s nothing intentionally done.

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BRProud News reporter and LSU alumnus Chessa Bouche later revealed that this wasn’t the first time LSU skipped the national anthem. She wrote, “LSU is never on the court for the National Anthem.

“If you ever go to an actual LSU game you’ll see that they’re never on the court for the anthem. It’s that simple. I’ve covered them for 3 years & they’ve never been.

National Anthems are not a new point of contention at LSU as some legislators threatened to remove funding from the program if any player took the knee, as per a Dec 2017 Washington Post report. The threat came in the form of a phone call to the then LSU President F. King Alexander (2013-19) but the university spokesperson didn’t reveal any names at the time. Although it primarily concerned the college football team, the threat was retracted shortly after the president informed the legislators how LSU teams traditionally stay in the locker rooms during the national anthem.

I can confirm the phone call occurred, but we won’t name the person, as that was an unfortunate comment that is better left in the past. We hope that in the future, LSU’s state appropriations will be tied to its performance in the classrooms and laboratories and its economic contributions to our state,” Jason Droddy, interim Vice President of communications, said in an email that same week.

Owing to this controversy, many fans were happy that Iowa eventually won the game, 97-84 behind Caitlin Clark’s 41 points.

The Iowa Hawkeyes get their revenge against Angel Reese and Co.

While the Lady Tigers started the game well, leading 31-26 after the 1st Quarter, their offense took a hit as they couldn’t even manage to score  31 points in the 2nd and 3rd quarters combined. Heading into the 4th quarter, the Hawkeyes were comfortably up 11 points and they managed to hold on to the lead despite LSU outscoring them in the final period.

USA Today via Reuters

Angel Reese had a monster double-double with 17 points and 20 rebounds. However, she fouled out of the game in the 4th, thus squashing any hopes of an LSU comeback. On the other hand, Caitlin Clark rose. The 22-year-old sensation scored 41 points, making 9 threes in a clinical display. She also had 12 assists in her name on a memorable night for Iowa.

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“Caitlin’s 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,” said LSU guard Hailey Van Lilth. She was tasked with defending Clark for much of the night.

After reaching the Final Four for the first time in three decades last year, the Hawkeyes are back in the same spot. But it was 364 days prior that the two teams previously met. Back then, Angel Reese’s team defeated their rival 102-85 in front of 10 million television viewers. Iowa finally got their revenge.

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They will be hoping to go all the way through this time. Iowa will next play Paige Bueckers and the UConn Huskies on Friday.

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Written by:

Shahryar Fazal

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Shahryar Fazal is a senior NBA writer at EssentiallySports. His specialisation lies in his scrupulous Live Coverage of the events like NCAA and WNBA tournaments. A former sportsman himself, Shahryar used to contribute stories for publishing houses like TOI before taking up American sports as his field of interest.
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Edited by:

Pragya Vashisth