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Iowa's Clark: Reese shouldn't be criticized 'at all' for taunts in title game

Ben Solomon / NCAA Photos / Getty

Iowa star Caitlin Clark publicly defended Angel Reese on Tuesday after the LSU forward received vast criticism for her gestures toward Clark as the clock ran down in Sunday's championship game.

"I don't think Angel should be criticized at all," she said on ESPN's Outside the Lines on Tuesday after winning the Wooden award as the season's top player. "No matter which way it goes, she should never be criticized for what she did. I'm just one that competes and she competed, so I think everybody knew there was going to be a little trash talk in the entire tournament, it's not just me and Angel.

"I don't think she should be criticized, like I said. LSU deserves it, they played so well. And like I said, I'm a big fan of hers."

With LSU seconds away from claiming its first national title in program history, Reese taunted Clark by pointing to her ring finger and waving her hand in front of her face while standing next to the Iowa star - a gesture Clark performed herself during the Hawkeyes' Elite Eight win over Louisville.

However, the Iowa guard holds no ill will toward the Tigers standout and even welcomes more players in women's hoops showing emotion in big moments.

"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," Clark said. "So 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 what draws it to the pro level, to college level, to the high school level - so either way, it doesn't matter.

"You should be able to play with that emotion, that's what makes it so fun. Nobody wants to tune in and not see people be competitive and passionate about what they're doing. Across any sport, that's how it should be. ... That's how I'm going to continue to play and that's how every girl should continue to play."

Despite falling one win short of a national championship, Clark is Iowa's first ever Wooden award winner. The 21-year-old, who led all scorers with 30 points in Sunday's loss, scored 27.8 points per game as a junior to go with 8.6 assists, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game on 38.9% shooting from distance.

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