GREENVILLE, S.C. — Angel Reese left LSU's NCAA tournament opener against Hawai'i for a few minutes, was hit in the mouth in the second round and appeared to be limping in the Sweet 16 victory over Utah on Friday.
The All-America forward told Yahoo Sports she's been dealing with cramps and has had to focus on hydration through the NCAA tournament.
“The more ramped-up games where we’re running a lot, going up and down, that’s when I kind of cramp up,” Reese said.
Reese said she doesn’t usually get sore, but cramps have come into play because she’s out on the court for more minutes than ever before. As a freshman at Maryland, she averaged 15.3 minutes coming mostly off the bench after she sustained a Jones fracture. It required surgery in her foot and a rod inserted that she said most people don’t know about. It’s partly why she wears the full-leg sleeve on that left leg to cover the scar.
She told Yahoo Sports it hasn’t hampered her since, and she’s lucky it happened so early.
As a sophomore, she averaged 25.9 minutes in 31 games for the Terrapins before entering the transfer portal. This season, she’s averaged 33.5 minutes over 33 games and counting. She’s played six games of at least 38 minutes and four of a full 40 or more, in the case of the overtime Georgia win.
Playing at LSU also means a more concerted defensive effort. Head coach Kim Mulkey said Reese is one of the few post players she's had where she would feel comfortable putting her anywhere on the floor defensively, guarding anyone from a point guard to a center.
Reese played 36 minutes against Hawai’i with 34 points and 15 rebounds in the first round. Against Michigan, it was 37 minutes with 25 points and 24 rebounds. And against Utah, she had 17 points and 12 rebounds in 31 minutes. She said she hadn’t cramped up in the regular season.
“I didn’t have to play that much last year so just being able to change my water hydration,” Reese told Yahoo Sports. “And [the training staff has] been on me, helping me. I’m going to get an IV today, just doing a lot of hydration things.”
Reese said LSU brings a masseuse on the road and the program has “amazing trainers” who have been working with her on it, particularly as games have become more physical and heightened intensity. She had a massage at 11 p.m. the night of the Sweet 16 win and after a little sleep, was back at Bon Secours Wellness Arena first thing on Saturday for practice and to meet with the media. Mulkey said the group was excited, but certainly tired, and will be getting rest later Saturday before the 7 p.m. ET regional final the next night against Miami.