Berea Lady Mountaineers Make Historic First Appearance in NCAA Tournament

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For nearly a century, Berea College played in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in the NAIA division. In 2014, they began the transition to becoming a member of the NCAA in Division III.

Since becoming an official member of the NCAA and the USA South Conference, Berea Athletics has struggled to find its footing in certain sports. The picture of consistency, however, has been the women’s basketball team.

Since joining the USA South in 2017, the Lady Mountaineers have finished second in the conference and barely missed out on the national tournament. This season, however, Head Coach Trent Milby led his team over the hump and won a conference championship.

“Winning the conference tournament was a great joy for the team as well as the coaching staff,” Coach Milby told WBON. “Being there the last two years and losing in the championship game, you know, it kind of stung a little bit. But this year they just had that motivation to get over the hump.”

This was Berea College’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament and the entire community got behind this team down the stretch. The Lady Mountaineers lost 76-50 in the first round to Illinois Wesleyan, a team with a long history of success in the tournament.

With a strong recruiting class coming in and a host of veterans coming back, including USA South player of the year Aailyah Hampton. And while it sure was sweet to finally make it to the big dance, the goals will be even more lofty next year.

“We want to win the conference again, obviously,” Milby said of next season. “I don’t know, maybe Sweet 16. That would be a great achievement, if we could get to the Sweet 16.”