Clark and Reese bring star power to Albany 2 Regional that features Iowa, LSU, Colorado and UCLA

Iowa's Caitlin Clark (22) is seen during a morning practice session at a college basketball NCAA Tournament in Albany, N.Y. Friday, March 29, 2024. Iowa plays Colorado in a Sweet 16 game on Saturday. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Iowa's Caitlin Clark (22) is seen during a morning practice session at a college basketball NCAA Tournament in Albany, N.Y. Friday, March 29, 2024. Iowa plays Colorado in a Sweet 16 game on Saturday. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink) Hans Pennink

Iowa's Caitlin Clark (22) is seen during a morning practice session at a college basketball NCAA Tournament in Albany, N.Y. Friday, March 29, 2024. Iowa plays Colorado in a Sweet 16 game on Saturday. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Iowa's Caitlin Clark (22) is seen during a morning practice session at a college basketball NCAA Tournament in Albany, N.Y. Friday, March 29, 2024. Iowa plays Colorado in a Sweet 16 game on Saturday. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink) Hans Pennink

LSU head coach Kim Mulkey, center, is escorted to a news conference at a women's college basketball NCAA Tournament in Albany, N.Y., Friday, March 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

LSU head coach Kim Mulkey, center, is escorted to a news conference at a women's college basketball NCAA Tournament in Albany, N.Y., Friday, March 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) Mary Altaffer

Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder is seen during a morning practice session at a college basketball NCAA Tournament in Albany, N.Y. Friday, March 29, 2024. Iowa plays Colorado in a Sweet 16 game on Saturday. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder is seen during a morning practice session at a college basketball NCAA Tournament in Albany, N.Y. Friday, March 29, 2024. Iowa plays Colorado in a Sweet 16 game on Saturday. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink) Hans Pennink

By DOUG FEINBERG

Associated Press

Published: 03-29-2024 6:34 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. — Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese bring a lot of star power to the Albany 2 Regional as two of the biggest names in college basketball.

Clark’s Iowa squad and Reese’s LSU team would both have to win their Sweet 16 games for the two to meet in a NCAA championship rematch that drew the biggest audience in women’s basketball history last April with nearly 10 million people tuning in.

They’re both focused on their games at hand because it won’t be easy for either team to advance to the regional final. The top-seeded Hawkeyes face fifth-seed Colorado in a rematch of their Sweet 16 game last year. The third-seeded Tigers meet No. 2 UCLA in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.

The Tigers could have other distractions from an upcoming story on coach Kim Mulkey in the Washington Post that she railed against last week and even threatened legal action. Mulkey said her attention is solely on the UCLA game.

“I did make a statement, and that’s all I’ll comment on at this time because all I am focused on is to try and win another basketball game,” she said. “Thank you for asking, though.”

Colorado will have to figure out a way to slow down Clark, who earlier this season became the NCAA’s Division I career scoring leader. Last time when the two teams met in the Seattle Regional, Iowa came away with an 87-77 victory. Clark had 31 points and eight assists in the victory.

“They are the same team, but they also have added some new pieces or added some new dimensions to their game,” Colorado coach JR Payne said. “Playing Iowa is very similar in that regard, very similar to what they were, but also added some new things, as well, so similar approach. A little bit of both.”

TEE’D UP

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder has found her own way to reign in Clark’s competitiveness a little bit by calling technical fouls on her in practice. Bluder explained that sometimes the officials they bring in or the student managers who officiate aren’t hard enough on the team’s star. By calling the technical fouls, Bluder feels that it can avoid Clark getting them in games.

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“You see her in games and the emotion she plays with in games, the passion, the highs, the lows — she’s the same way in practice when we go against our practice guys,” Bluder said. “When we have officials in, and the officials that we’re bringing in sometimes don’t want to call technicals on us, so I’ll just do it from the bench because I do feel like we have to try to help her maintain her composure at times.”

When asked about it, Clark quickly said that it’s been a while since she got one in practice. It seems to have worked as Clark was only called for one this year after accruing three last season.

DELAYED FLIGHT

Cori Close said UCLA got in late Thursday night after their cross-country flight was delayed because a flight attendant was sick before they took off and a replacement had to be brought in. The Bruins had an early practice Friday morning so the team didn’t get much sleep, but refused to use that as excuse if they don’t play well Saturday.

“Obviously it helps that we have today to sleep and get used to the time change,” star guard Charisma Osborne said. “But I think our plane got delayed; that’s something that’s just uncontrollable, and we just have to adjust to that. Obviously no one purposely made that happen. If that didn’t happen we would have maybe gotten a little bit more sleep.”

INJURY UPDATE

Bluder said guard Molly Davis was doubtful to play on Saturday. She injured her right knee in Iowa’s regular-season finale against Ohio State.

“I really thought she’d be back by now. I really did,” Bluder said. “I have no idea how long it’s going to take for her to completely heal, but we’re not going to put her out there when it’s unsafe for her to be out there.”

Davis was at Iowa’s practice Friday, wearing workout gear and a compression brace on the knee. She stretched during the open part of practice for the media, but didn’t run or participate in drills.

PRAYERS FOR BALTIMORE

Reese’s thoughts were with her hometown of Baltimore after a ship crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing it to collapse and killing six construction workers.

“My prayers are to everyone that hasn’t been found yet and the ones that are found and are still suffering from injuries,” Reese said.

The LSU star said that her aunt would drive across the bridge to get to work every day and that her family would go over it to get to her house.

“I’m not sure the route she’s taking right now or if she’s been able to go to work since then,” Reese said.