NEW YORK (AP) — Iowa standout Caitlin Clark said there’s no reason for LSU’s Angel Reese to be criticized on social media for waving her hand in front of her face while staring down Clark during the women’s NCAA championship game. Clark, The Associated Press Player of the Year, made a similar gesture to no one in particular during Iowa’s victory over Louisville in the Elite Eight.
“I don’t think Angel should be criticized at all. No matter which way it goes, she should never be criticized for what she did. I’m just one that competes — and she competed,” Clark said Tuesday on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines, ” adding: “I think everybody knew there was going to be a little bit of trash talk in the entire tournament. It’s not just me and Angel.”
Reese, who was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, waved her hand in front of her face as if to say “you can’t see me” while staring down Clark in the final moments of LSU’s 102-85 win on Sunday, then pointed toward a finger as if to indicate a ring was coming. Social media was divided on Reese’s gesture, with some saying it was just part of the game and others saying Reese lacked grace in victory. Reese, who also made what appeared to be a “you’re too small” gesture several times after scoring in a 79-72 semifinals victory over Virginia Tech, was unapologetic Sunday night.
“All year, I was critiqued about who I was,” said Reese, who is Black; Clark is white. “I don’t fit in a box that y’all want me to be in. I’m too hood. I’m too ghetto. But when other people do it, y’all say nothing. So this was for the girls that look like me, that’s going to speak up on what they believe in. It’s unapologetically you.”
Clark was asked on ESPN whether there was a difference in how people think women’s players should act compared with men’s. “I think men have always had trash talk … and I think more and more people, as they turn on the game, they’re appreciating it for what it is,” Clark said. “I’m just lucky enough that I get to play this game and have emotion and wear it on my sleeves — and so does everybody else. So, that should never be torn down, that should never be criticized because I believe that’s what makes this game so fun.” Clark was the first to post consecutive 40-point games in an NCAA Tournament. She also said on ESPN that LSU deserves the title — “they played so well” — and that she’s a “big fan” of Reese.
More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25