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Mother McAuley’s Jasma Williams woke up Saturday with GCAC Red championship dreams dancing in her head.
Her message to her teammates when she arrived at school was simple.
“I just told the team, ‘I’m going to do what I have to do.’ ’’
When it mattered the most, Williams did it better than anybody else as the Mighty Macs conquered Loyola in a classic battle, 58-54, at Mother McAuley in Chicago.
Elizabeth Nye led the way with 21 points and five assists, Molly O’Malley added 11 points and Williams contributed seven points and seven rebounds for McAuley (17-8).
Loyola (19-10) was paced by Liz Satter (14 points, six rebounds), Mary Kate Herion (13 points), Tyra Mills (10 points) and Maggie Nick (10 points, eight rebounds).
The Red division title was the first for McAuley since 2010.
“We’re glad it was us, but this was definitely a representation of what our coaches have come in and done,” Nye said. “They’ve done a great job with us.
“Last year we were in the championship, and this year to get a win is just awesome for us, but also awesome for our coaches and for the whole McAuley student body. It’s been a good athletic year for McAuley.”
Williams stepped up in a huge way with 2:28 remaining and the game tied at 52, when she rebounded a second consecutive missed Mighty Macs shot and banked the ball in. She was also clutch with 8.4 seconds left, when with it still a one-possession game at 57-54, she hit the clinching free throw.
The 5-11 forward also stepped in during the third quarter when center Erin Drynan was felled by an errant Loyola elbow. Dryan, with a deep bruise and lump under her right eye, eventually returned in the fourth period.
“Without Erin I was like, ‘OK, well now I really have to step up because she’s our big man.’ So I had to take it up to the next notch, and stop their big girls,” Williams said.
The first half saw an extraordinary shooting exhibition in which the two teams combined for a sterling 27-of-49 reading, and each hit for six three-pointers. It ended in a 34-all tie.
A turning point occurred in the closing two minutes of the third period when the Mighty Macs rallied from 42-38 down on a free throw by Raven Willis, a reverse layup by Nye and two free throws by O’Malley.
The 5-6 Nye stood tallest on the court in the fourth period, scoring nine of McAuley’s 15 points.
“She’s tough,” Loyola coach Jeremy Schoenecker said. “She’s small, undersized, but she does some really good things. She can shoot it, she can attack, she knows where her outlets were at, and she keeps really good space to allow herself to get some really good shots off.
“It was a great game. Both teams got after it, a typical Loyola-McAuley game. They just made some shots down the stretch and we didn’t convert on some things we usually convert on.”