DIII WOMENS HOOPS: Mountaineers claim second-straight CCS tournament title

Feb. 24—BEREA — A setback on the road to a conference rival in the regular-season finale snapped Berea College's 16-game winning streak.

It was the team's first loss since Dec. 29.

"I always tell the (players), after a loss you can go one of two ways," Berea College coach Trent Milby said. "If you lose one, don't let it lead to another."

The Mountaineers refocused, regrouped and roared back in a big way.

Berea College (24-3) clinched its second-straight Collegiate Conference of the South Tournament title with an 80-60 win over Belhaven University on Saturday afternoon at the Seabury Center.

Drea Satori had a game-best 23 points, while Atiya Moss and LynKaylah James had 14 points each as the Mountaineers shot 50 percent from the field and forced 15 turnovers.

"We focused on our shooting during the week and talked about some defensive stuff," Milby said. "And those were probably the best two games we've played all year."

The Mountaineers advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the second-straight season. They will face DePauw University on Friday in Greencastle, Ind.

Satori led the charge for the Mountaineers over the weekend. The junior guard from Louisville was named the tournament's MVP after scoring a total of 48 points.

"We knew we had to refocus and get ready for these games," Satori said. "And that's what we did."

And Satori was ready to step up into a bigger role.

The point guard averaged 11 points a game during the regular season — second-best on the team — but knew she would have to be more aggressive offensively, especially with opponents trying to slow down the CCS Player of the year — 6-foot-2 sophomore LynKaylah James.

"I talked to her and I told her that they were going to collapse in on Big Lyn and we are going to need someone to come out here and take over the game — and she's the one who could do it," Milby said. "And she did it."

Satori had 25 points in the semifinal win over Maryville on Friday.

Against Belhaven, the guard was 8-of-11 from the field, 2-of-4 from three-point range, and hit all five of her free throw attempts.

"I knew I could score. I just had to put my mind to it," Satori said.

James was in foul trouble early but still finished with another double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) — her 14th of the season. Moss also had six rebounds.

Jayden Merriweather added nine points, Madison Howell had seven points and Dailyn Spalding added five points.

Berea never trailed, getting 34 points in the paint and 21 points off turnovers.

In their two seasons in the CCS, the Mountaineers had a 34-2 record against league opponents and won two regular-season title and two conference tournament championships.

Berea is set to join the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference next season.

"We expect the same results and we will work toward (those same goals)," Milby said.