Before the climactic confrontation at the Elite Eight, Angel Reese shared his true feelings about Caitlin Clark for the first time. “I think people just take it like we hate each other. Me and Caitlin Clark don’t hate each other…”

As heated and entertaining as the Elite Eight matchup between Iowa and LSU is expected to be on Monday night, there is no “hate” nor “rivalry” between the teams’ two leading stars, Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese.

There is much showmanship and trash talk to be expected after last year’s NCAA women’s final match that featured Reese mocking with her ring finger and making the John Cena “You can’t see me” hand gesture towards Clark as LSU captured their first national championship.

LSU's Angel Reese gives a ring gesture in front of Iowa's Caitlin Clark during the NCAA Women's Final in 2023.
LSU’s Angel Reese gives a ring gesture in front of Iowa’s Caitlin Clark during the NCAA Women’s Final in 2023.AP

Caitlin Clark speaks to the media on Sunday.
Caitlin Clark speaks to the media on Sunday.Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
However, Reese said on Sunday there isn’t much to read into in regards to trash talking and what unfolded in last year’s final.

“I don’t think people realize it’s not personal,” said Reese, who ranks second in the nation in rebounds per game (13.2). “Once we get out between those lines, if I see you walking down the street, it’s like, ‘Hey, girl, what’s up? Let’s hang out.’ I think people just take it like we hate each other. Me and Caitlin Clark don’t hate each other. I want everybody to understand that. It’s just a super-competitive game. Once I get between those lines, there’s no friends. I’m going to talk trash to you. I’m going to do whatever it takes to get in your head the whole entire game, but after the game, we can kick it. I don’t think people really realize that.

“That’s fine. I’ll take the villain role. I’ll take the hit for it, but I know we’re growing women’s basketball. If this is the way we’re going to do it, then this is the way we’re going to do it. You either like it or you don’t.”

Both Reese and Clark admitted to The Post’s Steve Serby that there is no “rivalry” between the two.

Caitlin Clark shoots the ball against Angel Reese during the fourth quarter during the 2023 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament championship game.


Caitlin Clark shoots the ball against Angel Reese during the fourth quarter during the 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament championship game.Getty Images

Angel Reese and LSU speak with the media on Sunday.
Angel Reese and LSU speak with the media on Sunday.Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
Rather, Reese has described their relationship as “super competitive,” as the two have logged several wins and losses against one another since high school and again later when Reese started her college career at Maryland.

The two have often been compared to the championship feud between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, who were linked in a rivalry after facing one another in an NCAA men’s final when Johnson’s Michigan State defeated Birds’ Indiana State in 1979.

Since then, the two have faced one another three times in the NBA Finals — 1984, 1985, and 1987. Johnson and the Lakers got the best of Bird and Boston, 2-1.

Clark, who leads the NCAA women in points per game at 31.7, agreed with Reese’s take on their relationship.

“There’s definitely that competitive fire,” Clark said. “Both of us want to win more than anything, and that’s how it should be when you’re a competitor and you get into a situation like this, whether it was the national championship, whether it’s the Elite Eight.

“I think that’s the main similarity is how competitive we are. We both grew up loving this game, and we’re going to do anything we can to help our teams win.”

Clark and Reese are set to tipoff against one another on Monday night at 7:15 p.m. for what is expected to be one of the best matchups of the tournament.

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