Lisa Bluder: 'This is not a rivalry, this is a competition'

Iowa is heading to the Final Four for the second straight year and head coach Lisa Bluder could not be more proud of her team.

Apr 1, 2024; Albany, NY, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Lisa Bluder celebrates defeating the LSU Tigers in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Women's Tournament.
Apr 1, 2024; Albany, NY, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Lisa Bluder celebrates defeating the LSU Tigers in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Women's Tournament. / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The confetti fell and the net was cut down as Iowa women's basketball is heading back to the Final Four for the second straight year. Although this win might have been a little sweeter for the Hawkeyes as they got revenge on LSU beating them 94-87 almost a year after the Tigers took them down in the National Championship.

You would never know that this Iowa team lost to LSU in the National Championship though last year. Head coach Lisa Bluder said that the team did not talk about last year's game at all and focused on this one game and themselves, not on LSU. Bluder was also adamant that this game was not a rivalry and that these two teams were not rivals.

"We talked about that last night and I told the team this is not a rivalry it's a competition, it's a competition against an opponent it's not a rivalry," Bluder said. "I think people were excited to see this play to see this matchup again so I think that was there the excitement around the game, but it certainly wasn't one that we felt was a rivalry.

No matter how these teams view this game or matchup, it was electric from the start and lived up to the hype. Of course, all eyes were on both teams' super stars Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese who were both the leading scorers for their teams.

Clark stole the spotlight hitting nine threes on the night dropping 41 points along with 12 assists and seven rebounds flirting with a triple-double. With the score tied 45-45 coming out of halftime, Clark hit a long three to give the Hawkeyes momentum in the second half.

Bluder made it a point in her postgame presser to talk about her star player's maturity in the game. Clark even talked about her maturity as well, but her head coach praised her on how much she has grown and how tonight could have gone very different for Clark.

"It could have been a highly emotional game, it could have been a lot of talking going on out there just from what happened at the end of last year and honestly she put it aside," Bluder said. "She put everything aside and I think her maturity, just her communication with her teammates tonight was really good."

We all know how good Clark is on the floor, but her leadership is also unmatched as she makes everyone around her great. LSU head coach Kim Mulkey even spoke on Clark's greatness saying Clark can't beat a team on her own, but it is about how she makes everyone else around her so good.

Even Bluder was at a loss for words when talking about Clark's shooting tonight, but apparently, the three-point shot wasn't the game plan for Clark. Ball screens were encouraged for Clark early in the game to get to the rim and make shots inside. Bluder wanted her star not to start with three-point shots, but let's face it this is Caitlin Clark we are talking about, the logo queen.

However, come the third quarter Bluder knew Clark was about to take over the game with her signature shots and there was no stopping her.

"I'm telling you third quarter though, she came out with a different look in her eye," Bluder said. "I could tell her all I wanted to that time to get to the rim and it wasn't going to happen."

Going into halftime, Clark had made only three 3-pointers and had 19 points. Bluder was right when she said Clark had a different look in her eye because Clark made six 3-pointers in the second half and finished with 41 points.

The Hawkeyes have little time to celebrate as they wait to see who will win the UConn-USC game. They will take on the winner in roughly a week in what will be an electric Final Four matchup with either opponent.