Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

The night women’s basketball stood in the spotlight

Marylin Terazas

Women’s college basketball reached an unprecedented peak during the elite eight. The battle between the LSU Tigers and Iowa Hawkeyes, followed by the UConn Huskies and the Southern California Trojans, drew historic viewership and placed the sport squarely in the national spotlight. 

LSU vs. Iowa shattered viewership records with 12.3 million people tuning in, becoming the most-watched women’s college basketball game ever and ESPN’s highest-rated basketball broadcast since the 2018 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. This monumental viewership was nearly matched by the thrilling game that followed between UConn and USC, which peaked at 10.4 million viewers, showing the immense popularity and growing interest in women’s college basketball.

Central to the spotlight are players whose skills and stories have elevated the sport to unprecedented heights. One such player is Angel Reese, LSU’s junior forward, who has been a dominant force in the Southeastern Conference. Leading the conference in scoring and rebounding, she propelled the Tigers to their first national championship victory last season. Her consistent play earned her a spot on the All-SEC First Team for a second consecutive year.

USC’s freshman guard Juju Watkins has also been pivotal in the sport’s growth, bringing the Trojans back to prominence in just her first collegiate season. Winning National Freshman of the Year and earning All-American honors, Watkins finished as the nation’s highest-scoring freshman in history. Her dominance on the court has reignited interest in USC basketball, drawing parallels to the program’s glory days in the 1980s.

Paige Bueckers, the junior guard from Connecticut, has epitomized resilience, excellence, and also been one of the key figures in the sport’s growth. After winning the Naismith Player of the Year Award as a freshman, she faced adversity with an ACL tear, but returned to lead UConn to another outstanding season and Final Four appearance.

Iowa’s senior guard, Caitlin Clark, has been the pivotal force behind the surge in popularity of women’s college basketball. Winning the AP Women’s College Basketball Player of the Year award in 2023 and 2024, Clark led the nation in points and assists per game and broke the all-time scoring record for women’s college basketball. Her extraordinary achievements not only led Iowa to back-to-back national championship appearances, but also set a new standard for individual excellence in the sport.

Monday night not only showcased the athletes’ skill and dedication but also reflected a broader shift in the cultural and commercial landscape of sports. Women’s basketball commanded a prime-time audience, with viewership figures challenging and even surpassing those of men’s basketball, signaling a shift in how women’s sports are perceived and consumed.

The impact of the day went beyond the immediate thrill of competition. It catalyzed a reevaluation of women’s basketball’s marketability and media value, proving that games featuring top teams and marquee players could draw massive audiences and generate significant media buzz. This shift is crucial not only for the advancement of women’s basketball but also for the broader movement towards gender equality in sports, offering proof of the growing interest and investment in women’s athletics. 

The history of women’s college basketball and women’s sports reached a pivotal moment during the elite eight. The record-breaking viewership and the spotlight on the star players illustrated the sport’s growing prominence and appeal, highlighting a shift and potential for future growth and recognition in women’s athletics.

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About the Contributor
Aramis Santiago
Aramis Santiago, Staff Writer

Hey, I'm Aramis (he/him). I am a 22 year old, freshman, communication major here at UTSA. He has a  passion for sports, specifically football and basketball, and to a lesser degree, baseball and UFC as well. My goal is to have a job lined up after graduating for journalism where I can talk and write about sports for a living. I also love food and listening to music. I enjoy eating from any place and mainly listen to reggaeton, R&B, and hip-hop. My hobbies whenever I am not working or going to school are watching sports, working out, hanging out with friends, listening to music, playing video games, and I've recently started reading as well. I was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico in 2000, moved to Baltimore, Maryland with my parents in 2006, and moved to San Antonio, Texas in 2010 where I’ve stayed ever since. I’m also a diehard fan of the Baltimore Ravens, haven’t missed a game since 2014 and will continue watching them for as long as I can breathe.

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