Lady Jags seek Horizon League title in tourney

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On March 10, one women’s basketball team will remain standing in the 2020 Horizon League Tournament.

The tournament will resume play with the semifinal round on March 9. The tournament began on March 3, with Wright State, Northern Kentucky, Cleveland State, and Milwaukee all moving on to the second round.

During the second round of the tournament, Northern Kentucky triumphed over Milwaukee, and No. 6 Cleveland State upset No. 3 Wright State. In the semifinal round, No. 1 IUPUI will square off against Cleveland State, and No. 4 Northern Kentucky will battle No. 2 Green Bay.

For the IUPUI Lady Jags, who finished the season 21-8 overall and 15-3 in conference play, this season has been near historic. Head coach Austin Parkinson nabbed Horizon League Coach of the Year honors. Senior guard Holly Hoopingarner earned Second Team All-League honors, and redshirt sophomore Rachel McLimore earned Third Team All-League honors. Junior Macee Williams, who has been a force for the Lady Jags this season, brought home a surplus of hardware, winning Horizon League Player of the Year for the second consecutive year, as well as being named First Team All-League and All-Defensive Team.

Williams, who is averaging a Horizon League-leading 17.8 points per game, as well as 8.9 rebounds per game, was honored to have her stellar play recognized by the Horizon League.

“Winning POTY means so much to me,” Williams said through Twitter. “I have to give a lot of props to my teammates because I feel like I am Player of the Year because of them.”

Her teammates truly have helped the Lady Jags earn the top seed in the tournament. Hoopingarner has averaged 9.5 points and 3.8 assists per game. McLimore will put out out a double-digit point total from game to game, averaging 11 points per game. Freshman guard Natalie Anderson has also been a solid contributor, averaging 6.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

Although the Lady Jags won the regular season Horizon League title, they are still hungry for more.

“Winning the tournament and making it to the NCAA tournament is our number one goal,” Williams said. “We all would be very disappointed if we did not win it because we know we are capable of doing so.”

In order to win the tournament and capture their first championship since joining the Horizon League in 2017, the Lay Jags will first have to defeat Cleveland State. Although Cleveland State entered the tournament as the sixth-seed due to their 9-9 conference performance, they held the second-best overall record at 21-10. They are led by junior guard Mariah White and senior guard Mariah Miller. White, who was named this year’s Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year, has averaged 15.6 points and 3.1 steals per game. Miller has averaged 17.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

In their two previous meetings this season, once on December 30 of last year at Cleveland State, and again on January 30 at IUPUI, the Lady Jags have been successful. During the December 30 meeting, which IUPUI won 78-53, and Williams scored a career-high 33 points. This first meeting also sparked a 13-game win streak for IUPUI. During their second meeting, which again saw IUPUI win, Williams scored 16 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.

If the Lady Jags defeat Cleveland State, they would play for the Horizon League Championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament against the winner of the Green Bay/Northern Kentucky matchup. Green Bay and Northern Kentucky are two very hot teams at the moment, with Northern Kentucky riding a 4-game streak, and Green Bay riding a 6-game streak. Green Bay defeated the Lady Jags during this streak on a February 23 meeting in Indianapolis by a final score of 61-58. Green Bay is looking to win its 17th Horizon League title, and fifth in the last six years.

IUPUI will square off against Cleveland State on March 9 at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, which will play host to the semifinal and final rounds of the tournament for both the men and women. Tipoff for the game is at noon, and any IUPUI student can purchase a ticket for $10 by showing their student ID at the gate.


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