LCSC to open national tourney against No. 11 Cumberlands
True to form in the rankings of the final NAIA poll, the Lewis-Clark State College women’s basketball team will open the NAIA Women’s Basketball Tournament against No. 11 University of the Cumberlands next Thursday at 2:30 p.m., PST, at Jackson, Tenn.
Pairings for the 32-team single-elimination tournament were released on Thursday, a day after the final NAIA poll and the list of 32 qualifiers cam out. If drawing out the bracket where the No. 1 ranked team would play the No. 32 team, No. 11 Cumberlands and No. 22-ranked LCSC would match up.
This is the second meeting between the two teams. The two met in the second round of the 2001 national tournament with LCSC claiming a 71-63 win. That season was LCSC’s best finish in the tournament when it advanced to the Final Four before falling to eventual national champion Oklahoma City.
Cumberlands, which is located in Williamsburg, Kent., brings a 27-4 record into the tournament. The Patriots tied for the Mid-South Conference regular season title and then won the conference tournament over Campbellsville last Sunday.
LCSC, 23-7 overall, finished tied for second in the Frontier Conference but then won the conference tournament title with an overtime win over Westminster in Salt Lake City on Monday. It was LCSC’s first win in three games against Westminster, which also qualified for the tournament with an at-large berth. Cumberlands also beat Westminster 68-51 at home early in the season.
The Warriors are making their 13th trip to the national tournament in the last 14 seasons. LCSC has an all-time record of 14-12 at the national tournament.
Cumberlands is making is 10th appearance overall, including its sixth straight and its eights in the past nine seasons. Cumberlands, however, has made it out on the first round only twice and has a 2-9 overall record in the tournament.
Cumberlands coach Melissa Irvin is in her 12th year at the helm. She has led the team to nine 20-plus win seasons and also played at the school during the late 1980s and early 90s. She is the school’s all-time leader in assists (734) and 3-point shooting (.375) and is the ninth all-time leading scorer. She was inducted into the school’s 2007 Athletic Hall of Fame.
The two teams share a couple of common bonds this season. Depth can be an issue for both teams because LCSC has only nine healthy players on its squad, while Cumberlands has only six players to play in all 31 games.
The two also boast their respective conference’s Freshman of the Year. Lauren Wombles won the honor for the Patriots, while Jasmine Stohr received the honor and also was a first-team all-conference pick for LCSC. Both are 6-foot guard/forwards.
Wombles is averaging 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, both team highs. She also led the team in field goal percentage at 54.8 percent, was second on the team in blocked shots, and finished third in steals.
Amber Neace, a 6-0 junior guard, and Madison Flowers, a 5-8 senior guard, also average in double figures scoring. Neace is at 14.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, and Flowers is at 11.7 points. Flowers leads the team with 72 3-pointers, while Neace is second at 61. Neace leads the team in steals, while Flowers is second.
LCSC also has three players averaging in double figures, led by Stohr’s 13.4 mark. She’s also averaging 4.1 rebounds per game. Sadie Short, also a first-team all-league selection, is at 11.3 points, while Nikki DePeel is at 10.9
Looking at team statistics, Cumberlands is averaging 73.1 pointers per game while holding opponents to 56.5. The Patriots are shooting 43.3 percent from the field at 35 percent from the 3-point line where they average 7.4 3-pointers per game. The Patriots also are outrebounding opponents by an average of 36.1-29.0 per game.
The Patriots are averaging nearly 17 turnovers a game and are forcing around 20.
LCSC is averaging 73.3 points per game, while allowing 61.7. The Warriors are shooting 43.6 percent from the field and 35.1 percent at the 3-point line and are averaging 5.8 3-pointers per game. LCSC is holding opponents to just 35.5 percent accuracy from the field and are outrebounding opponents 38.8-37.7.
LCSC also is forcing an average of 19.5 turnovers while committing just less than 16.
LCSC will leave on Monday for Jackson and the annual banquet will be held Tuesday night. Action in the tournament begins on Wednesday with the eight first-round games, while the second eight will be played on Thursday.
The LCSC-Cumberlands winner will play the winner of Wayland Baptist (22-11) and Fred-Hardman (24-8) on Friday at 6 p.m.