By Hannah Hodge
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS – Until the moment arrived, the moment that saved a championship season for the IUPUI Jaguars, coach Austin Parkinson had recognized an occasional flaw in a remarkable group. He knew that the Jaguars were far more than a supporting cast for Macee Williams. Now the time had come to prove it.
“Every once in a while,” Parkinson said, “we get in this tendency where we forget that Macee is a four-time Player of the Year. And during halftime when I walked in and first thing I said is, ‘We will make shots. We are the number one 3-point shooting team in the league.’”
It’s the fourth quarter, two minutes remain.
What had been a comfortable 18-point IUPUI lead is all but gone.
The score is 53-51.
IUPUI is facing a full-court press. The effective combination of the Cleveland State press and a 2-3 zone has limited Williams and created a crisis.
Enter Destiny Perkins.
Starting the play at the top of the key, Rachel McLimore swings a push pass to Perkins. There is a pass along the 3-point line from Perkins to Rachel Kent.
Moving back to the top of the key, Kent plants her feet and throws an overhead pass to Madison Wise.
Wise then throws a lob pass to Williams.
There is just 1:37 on the clock.
Then it happened.
Williams makes a strong pass to a ready and poised Perkins on the top corner of the key, waiting comfortably for a 3-point shot.
“In that moment,” Perkins said, “I just knew that whenever I get the ball that I need to shoot it, and if I am open I just need to do what I do and keep everybody together.”
In that moment, she did both.
Perkins shoots the ball and leaves her right hand in the air.
And Parkinson’s mind drifts back to another championship moment. “It was ironic,” he said, “as she released the shot and my mind went back to two years ago when we played Green Bay, because on the other side on the floor in front of our bench she hit a 3 that put it away. I give her a lot of credit for having the courage to take that shot.”
Perkins falls on her back with her feet in the air. An official’s whistle blows. The shot is good, and a foul is called against Viking junior Gabriella Smith. A four-point opportunity that the Jaguars desperately needed slows the pace and tempo of the game and helps a crisis pass.
Perkins makes the free throw. The lead is 57-51.
“It might have been the most important play in IUPUI women’s history,” Parkinson said.
Perkins is fouled two more times, makes four more free throws, and a 61-54 victory is seconds away.
Perkins dribbles out the clock in the backcourt, going counter-clockwise in a circle until the horn sounds, the celebration starts, and she casually flips the ball, underhanded, to an official.
“There are different types of leadership, and Destiny loves ball,” Parkinson said. “She spends a lot of time on her game and she has a certain kind of swag when she plays. And honestly, it does not surprise me when she stepped up when it was hitting the fan.”