NCAAW Tournament

Williams, Jags see historic season end vs Sooners


NORMAN, OK – It was quite the season for the IUPUI Lady Jaguars basketball team. They made their first trip in school history to the NCAAW Tournament after winning the Horizon League Championship. The Jags received a No. 13 seed traveled out to Norman Oklahoma to take on the host Sooners who were a No. 4 seed.  As they had all season against Power Five opponents, the Jags held their own the entire, but ultimately fell to Oklahoma by a 78-72 final score as IUPUI saw their historic season come to an end with a record of 24-5.

The Jags trailed by just one after the first 10 minutes 18-17 and went into the locker room at halftime trailing 41-37. IUPUI’s offense sputtered in the third and they found themselves down 59-49, but were still able to cut the as little as four in the final quarter, but just couldn’t break through.

The Jags who usually are a good three-point shooting team shot just 21% (7-33) and just 36% (26-72) from the field.

“I’m proud of our team,” Jags coach Austin Parkinson said. {I thought that Oklahoma is obviously incredibly talented. They had a great crowd tonight and put a lot of heat on you with the way they pushed the basketball. But I was proud of our players. We were right there. We’re the No. 1 three-point shooting team in our league. We got so many open looks and missed shots and at the end of the day in a game like this, that sometimes can be the difference. But I’m proud of this group. We were right there and a couple shots away from potentially being a different result.”

Fountain Central graduate and four-time Horizon League Player of the Year Macee Williams propelled the Jags early scoring 10 of the first 17 for IUPUI. She ended with 17 points in the game to go along with 13 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and one blocked shot. Williams concludes her career as IUPUI’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder and will hope to continue her basketball career in the WNBA.

“Macee is the best player in the history of our school and probably in the Horizon League. I was really proud of how she played tonight. Again, if I’m a WNBA team, I’ve got first or second round pick, I take a hard look at her. At the end of the day, we played two Big Ten teams and one Big 12 team, and every single one of them had to double her. To me, that says a lot about what she’s able to do individually, and clearly, she’s left her mark here at IUPUI.”

In addition to Williams 17, Rachel McLimore led the Jags with 18 points. Anna Mortag also scored in double figures for IUPUI with 14.

Oklahoma had four in double figures Taylor Robertson led all scorers with 22 points and Madi Williams scored 21, Skylar Vann added 13 and Nevaeh Tot ended with 10.

Sooners coach Jennie Baranczyk credited Parkinson and the Lady Jags for the competitive game and talked about how she thinks the Jags were under seeded

“I can promise you I’ve been on the bad side of seeding, and I think IUPUI is a little bit better than a 13-seed,” she said. They are a very good basketball team. They have got great experience and it was great March Madness in the nap center.”

Despite not shooting as well as they typically do, the Jags held their own and continued to not let the combination of poor shooting and playing in a hostile environment get to them. IUPUI found themselves by as down as many as 14 points in the third quarter as they missed their first 11 shots in the period, but they continued to chip away and give the Sooners everything they had.

“I was only just proud of my team for how we just fought back,” McLimore said. “A lot of teams that would miss that many shots in a row would just fold and lose by 20 and we made it a game. Like we were still in it at the end. So that’s one thing about us; we are not going to give up and we are going to fight till the end.”

Williams got more credit from Baranczyk for her performance after the game as she made life difficult for the Sooner all game long. Eight of Williams 13 rebounds came on the offensive end and when the double team did come, Williams dished it to her open teammates for an open look.

“We had to defend her a variety of ways to be honest,” Baranczyk said. “And in watching her, you knew that she was good; you respected her. But when you go against somebody like that, you really get the real story, and she’s good. She’s a very, very good basketball player, and she just makes everybody around her really great.”

IUPUI historic season includes taking Michigan to overtime in their season opener, upsetting Iowa (who won the Big 10 Championship) on the road, winning 14 straight games, and of course playing in their first NCAA Tournament game in school history. Parkinson reflected one final time on the greatest season in IUPUI Women’s Basketball history.

“I think the first game when we took Michigan to overtime, you know, we scheduled a tough schedule right off the bat because we knew head a good team. But we lost in overtime, we beat Iowa at Iowa in a ranked situation, and played these guys really tough. I mean, at the end of the day, you make a couple other shots and maybe it goes the other direction. But you know, like I said, our kids I think represented IUPUI really well. Finally after having the tournament canceled two years ago, to be able to play on a national stage and have people tuning in tonight, nine, ten o’clock at night, and see what these kids are capable of, I think was really neat.”

The run that the Lady Jags went on this season was something that was special. Williams who hails from small-town Veedersburg turned into the greatest player in Jags history and isn’t quite done with her basketball career. Wherever she goes, she’ll have the full support of Fountain Central, IUPUI and many others along the way.