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By David Hayden | @SluggySports

Sports Capital Journalism Program

INDIANAPOLIS – The first three-time Women’s Basketball Player of the Year in the history of the Horizon League will return for a fifth season.

Soon after the end of the 53-41 IUPUI loss to Wright State in the title game of the Horizon League Women’s Basketball Tournament, IUPUI senior Macee Williams said she planned to return for the 2021-22 season.

“I’m planning on taking a fifth year,” Williams said during a Zoom session with reporters. “I’m pretty excited to work on my game in the off-season just knowing what I need to work on….We know what we can do. It’s just more fire to us.”

Winter sport athletes that would have been graduating seniors received the option of an additional year of eligibility. The Division I Council determined last October that athletes could extend their career in an additional season and would be granted another year to compete.

But for Williams, part of the sadness of the championship-game defeat was the realization that she would no longer play with teammates that had helped lift IUPUI to a championship a year ago.

“I am extremely heartbroken knowing I won’t get to play with KO [Katelyn O’Reilly], Sydney [Roule] and Agatha [Beier],” Williams said, “but I’m looking forward to coming back next year.”

Within minutes of the disappointing loss, Williams had already started thinking about the group motivation for next season.

“We know what we need to do next year,” she said, “and won’t be in this position next year.”

Williams posted 28 points and 13 rebounds in 36 minutes. But the Jaguars shot a season-low 25%.

“I felt really confident about our team and our game plan coming into today,” said IUPUI coach Austin Parkinson. “For two and half quarters, we executed that but to their [Wright State] credit they did a really good job getting us out of our rhythm.”

Parkinson could not be certain, but the coach of the Jaguars felt there may have been missed opportunities to help Williams score more frequently. Williams recorded her sixth double-double in the last nine games for the Jaguars.

“Macee was dominating on the blocks,” Parkinson said. “Whatever reason, I have to go back to look at the film, but I felt like she was open a lot.”

Williams became the IUPUI all-time leading scorer during the semifinal victory against Milwaukee on Monday. After today’s performance, she has 1,851 career points. Williams’ career total is 826 points behind Kim Demmings of Wright State, who set the Horizon League record of 2,677 points from 2011 through 2016.