To say IUPUI had a successful season would be an understatement. Their season ended on March 16 with a loss to Saint Louis in the WNIT (Women’s national invitation tournament) 62-57. Despite the unfavorable outcome in postseason play, this was hardly a lost season for IUPUI. The Lady Jags finished the regular season with a 22-7 record, and a 24-9 record following their early exit from the WNIT.
The season was one of highs and lows for IUPUI. It was apparent they would be a force to be reckoned with when they defeated B1G school Purdue, who finished second in the B1G tournament this season. However, a three-game skid early in conference play spelled disaster for IUPUI. A 49-68 loss to South Dakota State was the turning point for the Lady Jags. They caught fire from that point on, winning 11 of their remaining 12 games to finish second in the conference behind Western Illinois.
Offensive leaders this season were Danielle Lawrence and Mikale Rogers. Lawrence averaged 16.3 points per contest, shooting 41 percent on the season. Rogers averaged 13.4 points, shooting 45 percent from the field. Holly Hoopingarner was most effective from 3-point range, shooting 48 percent. While Hoopingarner shot the best, Sydney Hall made the most 3-pointers with 65.
Seniors Caitlyn Tolen, Kelsi Byrd, and Mikale Rogers will be departing this off-season. All three started at some point this season and have been integral components in the success of IUPUI this season. Rogers will be missed dearly as her post presence was a dynamic game changer. Tolen and Byrd were reliable 3-point options and versatile guards who played efficient offense and stingy defense.
Though IUPUI is losing three stars, the underclassmen on the squad have proven they are ready to fill their shoes. All-Summit honorable mention Hall is returning for her junior season. Hall’s a deadly shooter from the guard position who has demonstrated an innate ability to orchestrate an offense.
Jenna Gunn is coming back as well. This senior-to-be really stepped her play up in the latter half of the season. Her ability to slash and score will be vital to the success of IUPUI next season.
Lawrence, this season’s leading scorer, will also be coming back. The senior-to-be guard has demonstrated that she is an elite player. Her combination of shooting and driving ability makes her a defensive nightmare for coaches everywhere.
Allex Brown and Hoopingarner are also players to watch in the coming years. Brown, who is entering her junior year, looked proficient in the post when subbing in for Rogers this season. She can hold her own defensively, and has some tricky moves to get defenders off of their feet.
Hoopingarner brings electricity to every aspect of her game. She pushes the ball on offense and hounds the ball on defense. As a freshman, she logged a good amount of playing time under Coach Parkinson, and has gained the trust of both he and her teammates. Her laser accuracy from 3-point and above-average court vision should be valuable additions to the Lady Jaguar offense next season.
This season will go down in history as one of the best in IUPUI history. On the season, two players surpassed 1,000 career points and the Lady Jags reached their first ever Summit League championship game. IUPUI has established themselves as a force in conference play, growth is imminent. If the underclassmen can step into a leadership role, there’s no reason IUPUI can’t improve after an already stellar season.