Caitlin Clark vs. Angel Reese beef history, explained: What Iowa and LSU stars have said since 2023 championship clash

Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark are the faces of women’s college basketball during the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

Both catapulted to stardom during last year’s championship game, which saw Reese and LSU claim their first national title against Clark and the Hawkeyes.

That game drew a bigger audience than ever before, averaging 9.9 million viewers and peaking with 12.6 million. And every one of those viewers bore witness to Reese and Clark’s fierce competitiveness.

Neither has slowed this season. Reese and LSU have courted controversy, and Clark has received criticism for her intense style of play (and her complaints to referees).

But both more than lived up to expectations in stellar campaigns. And now they’re on a collision course with a potential Elite Eight matchup looming.

Due to their intensity — and Reese’s famous hand-waving in Clark’s direction — during the 2023 national championship game, the pair are considered rivals and even enemies on the court. The Sporting News revisits their supposed feud, which comes down to respect between two fierce competitors.

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Caitlin Clark vs. Angel Reese beef history, explained

There’s nothing but appreciation — and a healthy does of competitive spirit — between Reese and Clark. The two continuously shut down rumors of any supposed beef in the months following the national championship game.

In reality, their time as friends, and opponents, stretches much farther back than their collegiate careers.

MORE: Are Iowa and LSU on track for a rematch?

“Oh my gosh, I love Caitlin. We’ve been competing since we were in AAU,” Reese said during LSU’s media day in October 2023. “It was always fun, always competitive. One day, hopefully, we could even be teammates. She is a great player, shooter, person and teammate.

“I don’t care about anything that’s negative. When you know the person and what they’re genuine intentions are, being able to know that we did something big, that we grew women’s basketball. That’s all that matters.”

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The Bayou Barbie made two gestures during the national championship, hitting the “You can’t see me” hand wave and pointing at her ring finger, with Clark just a few steps away.

After LSU won, critics came after Reese’s trash-talking. But Clark, who made the same “You can’t see me” gesture earlier in the tournament, didn’t let that fly.

“I don’t think Angel should be criticized at all,” she said in an ESPN interview two days later. “No matter which way it goes, she should never be criticized for what she did. I’m just one that competes, and she competed. I think everybody knew there was going to be a little trash talk. It’s not just me and Angel.

“That should never be torn down. That should never be criticized because I believe that’s what makes this game so fun. That’s what draws people to this game. That’s how I’m going to continue to play. That’s how every girl should continue to play.”

MORE: Ranking top 10 WNBA prospects in March Madness

Despite the narrative constructed in the aftermath of the national championship game, one which Reese has called “frustrating,” the two remain supportive of each others accomplishments. At least when they’re not sharing the court.

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