2021 Women's Basketball Season Wrap Up

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The IUPUI women’s basketball team concluded their season last Tuesday, March 9, finishing second in the Horizon League tournament with a season record of 15-5. On Monday, March 8, head coach Austin Parkinson notched his 200th win in his 11th year, which took the team back to the Horizon League Conference Championship game for the second consecutive year but the Jaguars fell short to Wright State 53-41 the following day.

“I would say I’m really proud of our players to get themselves back to the championship game," Parkinson said. “We had a lot of challenges, to give ourselves that position, up two at half time, well I think six months ago we would have signed up for it.”

Senior center Macee Williams was close to averaging a double-double with 18.9 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game, and finished the season with eight 20 point or more games as she was announced to be the Horizon League Conference’s player of the year for the third consecutive year. She finished as the conference’s leader in rebounding and shot percentage while coming second in total scoring.

As a team, IUPUI finished with the best winning percentage in the conference at .786 against conference opponents and .778 on the season. Along with being at the top of the stat sheet in wins, the lady Jags and their high powered offense went on to lead the conference in scoring and shooting percentage from the field and from long range, finishing top 10 in the NCAA in 3-point percentage while scoring 70.1 points per game on 44.9% shooting from the field.

Junior combo-guard Rachel McLimore helped fuel the offense, leading the team in assists, and finishing the season second in scoring on 13.9 points per game while shooting 44.3% from the field. She made 101 field goals this season, making her one of  two players on the team to finish the year with 100 total field goals made.

The team played well on both ends of the floor this season as they finished in the top three in the conference in defense, according to the Horizon League Conference’s rankings, with an average margin of victory of 12.8. The defense made it tough on their opponents all season, holding foes to just 57.3 points per game on 39.6% shooting from the field and 25.8% from deep. They also led the league in defensive rebounds.

Williams and fellow senior center Morgan Allen announced their return for next season, choosing to use the new rule instituted by the NCAA allowing athletes another year of eligibility due to Covid-19. Even though the decision was announced shortly after the conclusion of the Horizon League Championship game, it seems as though Williams already had an idea about her future.

“I kind of had a discussion with Coach P before the season started when they announced there can be a fifth year for athletes,” said Williams, “I knew all this time.” 

The short offseason was difficult for many teams around the country, including Williams and the Jaguars.

“I’m excited for Macee because she didn’t get an offseason last year and so she gets an off season to work on some things that I know she wants to," Parkinson said. "She wants to play at the professional level, she wants to improve her outside shot and work on some things that will just make her a more multi-dimensional player." 

Parkinson further discussed how the short offseason was tough on the team.

“Basketball is about connection and teambuilding, there was so much isolation because of all the protocols,” he said. “One season felt like four seasons and for our kids to overcome the challenges they did and have the year they had says a lot about them.”

While it was frustrating not having a complete offseason this past year, Williams has decided to build her game by expanding her range and skillset.

“I really want to improve just being more of a threat outside of the block," said Williams, "Just kind of working outside of my game, working away from the post, kind of just more like a forward."

Williams and Allen’s return announcements, while only graduating three players (two starters) from the roster, leaves a bright future for the Lady Jags.

Hopefully next season ends with IUPUI back in the Horizon League Conference championship to make it the third year in a row with an appearance. Even though this season is over, bright things are on the horizon for IUPUI women’s basketball team as they advance into the offseason.

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