Lady Jags make history with Horizon League title

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The IUPUI Lady Jags were crowned the 2020 Horizon League champions on Tuesday. It came on a 51-37 victory over the Green Bay Phoenix, an effort spearheaded by senior Holly Hoopingarner, who led the Lady Jags with 16 points.

The victory gave the Lady Jags their first Horizon League championship. It also guarantees them a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.

“It’s been quite a journey,” IUPUI head coach Austin Parkinson said after the game.

It was a physical game for the Lady Jags, with the victory coming due to tight defense and physical play. The Phoenix averaged 66.8 points per game this season, but IUPUI held them to just 37 points. On the boards, IUPUI limited the Phoenix to 25 rebounds, which is about 13 rebounds under Green Bay’s season average of 38.4 rebounds per game.

“We built our program on defense,” Parkinson said.

The defensive and physical tone of the game was established during the first quarter. Junior Macee Williams, the Horizon League Player of the Year, set this tone when she displayed her strength in the post by making a contested layup to get the scoring started. In fact, the majority of Williams’s 13 points on the night had to be earned on tough layups against Green Bay’s Madison Wolf.

At the end of the first quarter, the Lady Jags held a 9-4 lead. The second quarter began with a 6-0 IUPUI run on consecutive 3-pointers by junior Sydney Roule and Hoopingarner. Hoopingarner would go on to have a strong second quarter, making two 3-pointers within the final two minutes, one of which came with three seconds remaining in the half. At the half, the Lady Jags held a 31-19 lead.

Although Green Bay never held a lead in the game, it dominated the third quarter. The quarter began with the two teams trading shots. With 7:31 left to play in the quarter, the Lady Jags held a 37-24 lead. From there, Green Bay would go on a 13-4 run, drawing within five with just under 90 seconds left to play in the quarter. Hoopingarner made her fourth 3-pointer of the night to end the Green Bay rally. Green Bay and IUPUI would trade points to close the quarter out. Heading into the fourth quarter, IUPUI held a diminished 44-37 lead. Green Bay had momentum on its side, having outscored the Lady Jags 18-11 in the quarter.

“When we got out of the third quarter, we just came over and said listen, just stick to our game plan,” Parkinson said.

The Lady Jags did indeed stick to their game plan, with the fourth quarter being a defensive affair, so much so that Green Bay was held scoreless. The Lady Jags themselves only scored seven points, but it was enough to carry them to a victory.

“To hold them to zero points in the fourth quarter is a great way to finish it out,” Parkinson said.

Perhaps the most impressive performer of the final quarter for the Lady Jags was Williams, who grabbed five of her nine rebounds in the fourth. She finished the night with a total of 13 points. The Lady Jags also forced four turnovers in the final quarter. On the game, the Lady Jags forced 13 turnovers. This again showed the defensive effort IUPUI brought to the game, as Green Bay only turned the ball over an average of 11.5 times per game on the season.

After the game, Hoopingarner was named MVP of the Horizon League Tournament. Between the two games won over Cleveland State and Green Bay, Hoopingarner averaged 14.5 points.

“Her [Hoopingarner] leadership is insane,” Williams said. “She always tells us, even in practice, where to go, or if we’re down on ourselves, she’s always the one to pick us up.”

Hoopingarner also dished four assists and grabbed three rebounds to go along with her 16 points in the win. Sophomore Destiny Perkins also had a good game, scoring four points and grabbing seven rebounds off the bench. She also hit a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter to ice the game for the Lady Jags. Other top performers were sophomore Rachel McLimore, who finished with 10 points, and junior Katelyn O’Reilly, who finished with two points, seven rebounds, an assist and a block.

The Lady Jags will now look toward the approaching NCAA Tournament. The Selection Show will take place this coming Monday, March 16. From there, Coach Parkinson and the Lady Jags will attempt to continue the program’s historic season.


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