Iowa-LSU clash in Elite Eight becomes most-watched women’s basketball game ever

Monday night’s Elite Eight matchup between Iowa and LSU was watched by 12.3 million viewers, according to ESPN, which makes it the most-viewed women’s college basketball game on record and the most-watched college basketball game ever on ESPN platforms.

Iowa prevailed 94-87 in the national title game rematch to deny LSU a chance at a second consecutive championship.

LSU’s 102-85 victory over the Hawkeyes last year set the previous record, averaging 9.9 million viewers and peaking at 12.6 million viewers. That game was broadcast by ABC. Monday’s aired on ESPN.

Monday’s game peaked at 16.1 million viewers, per ESPN.

ESPN said the contest drew the second-highest audience for any basketball game on the network since 2012, trailing only Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference finals between LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics, which Sports Media Watch says drew 13.6 million.

This women’s Elite Eight was the most watched on record, ESPN said. In addition to the 12.3 million who watched Iowa-LSU, 6.7 million watched USC-UConn, 3.1 million watched Oregon State-South Carolina and 2.5 million watched NC State-Texas — giving this Elite Eight four of the round’s five most-watched games on record.

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark scored 41 points with 12 assists and seven rebounds Monday and was named the Albany 2 Regional Most Outstanding Player. She also became the all-time Division I leader in career 3-pointers and broke the NCAA Tournament all-time assists record of 136. And her nine 3s tied a single-game tournament record.

The Hawkeyes advanced to the Final Four and will play UConn, which defeated USC 80-73 in the Portland 3 Regional. The last time the two teams met in the tournament was the Sweet 16 in 2021 and UConn won 92-72. Paige Bueckers scored 18 in that game for the Huskies, while Clark led Iowa with 21.

Contributing: Jace Evans

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Iowa-LSU March Madness ratings in Elite Eight set ESPN records

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