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LSU’s Angel Reese says fiery handshake incident started with Bruins assistant coach ‘talking a little crazy’


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LSU star Angel Reese says the commotion on the handshake line after the Tigers’ 78-69 win over UCLA in the Sweet 16 Saturday stemmed from an assistant coach “talking a little crazy.” 

Broadcast cameras caught the tense moment when Reese appeared to say something to someone in the UCLA line. 

Angel Reese dribbles

Angel Reese (10) of the LSU Tigers drives against Christeen Iwuala (22) of the UCLA Bruins during the first half of the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament at MVP Arena March 30, 2024, in Albany, N.Y.  (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Initial speculation was that Reese exchanged words with Bruins head coach Cori Close, who appeared to take offense to something Reese said toward the UCLA bench after she fouled out of the game with 30 seconds remaining. But she clarified that her words were directed at an assistant coach. 

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“Oh no, she told me ‘good game,’” Reese said of Close when asked about the incident during LSU’s postgame press conference. 

“It was another coach talking a little crazy.” 

When asked to explain further, Reese replied with “Next question.” 

Angel Reese passes

Angel Reese (10) of the LSU Tigers dribbles against the UCLA Bruins during the first half of the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament at MVP Arena March 30, 2024, in Albany, N.Y.  (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

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Trouble seemingly began when Reese fouled out in the final minute of the game. As she made her way to the bench, she looked over her shoulder and appeared to say something toward the UCLA bench. 

A fired-up Close approached an official about it and was reportedly upset a technical foul was not called. 

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“That’s just not who we are,” Close said of Reese’s accusations after the game. 

Cori Close shouts

Head coach Cori Close of the UCLA Bruins speaks to her team during a game against the LSU Tigers during the Sweet 16 of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at MVP Arena March 30, 2024, in Albany, N.Y. (Scott Taetsch/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

“I don’t want to say anything about Angel. I will only speak to what the Bruins are, and the Bruins are classy, speaking life into each other. And we are not gonna give that any – we would never do that, and especially, it would never come from one of my coaches … absolutely not. 

Flau’jae Johnson had 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Reese put up her 26th double-double of the season to get LSU closer to a second straight title. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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