The University of the Cumberlands Women's Basketball team had yet another successful season as the ladies not only rewrote history in a couple different categories, but also took home a couple of Mid-South Conference Championships and multiple awards. Although the Patriot ladies season ended early during their run in the 2012 NAIA National Tournament, the women ended with a 28-4 overall record, and finished 6th in the final poll released. The Patriots reached as high as #5 in the rankings this season.
The women opened up their season making a statement, with a big win over Bluefield College 76-54 and never seemed to look back. Adopting the motto "Work for Tuesday" since the beginning, the Patriot ladies demonstrated their talent and hard play with multiple wins over nationally ranked teams such as Columbia College, Southern Polytechnic State University, and Trevecca Nazarene University. More impressively however, the Patriots defeated each Mid-South opponent at least once, posting a conference record of 14-2, claiming a share of the Regular Season MSC Conference Championship. However, the Patriots did more than just claim a championship and a few exciting wins. With a 75-46 win over West Virginia Tech on February 11th, the Patriots tied the all-time longest winning streak in Cumberlands history at 21 wins. The record ties the team from the 2003-2004 season.
In the MSC Tournament, the women started off on the right foot with a 73-59 victory over the UVA-Wise Cavaliers in the first round of play. This set up the Patriots to face their rivals, the Campbellsville Tigers, in the semi-final. With another convincing 77-64 victory, the stage was set for the women to battle the Shawnee State University Bears. The Patriots being seeded at #1 and the Bears at #2 had promise to be a thriller as each team had taken one win a piece during regular season play. With hard-nose defense and team basketball, the Patriots fought off the Bears with a 73-70 win, claiming not only the Mid-South Conference Tournament Championship, but also paving their way to the National Championship to be held for the first time in Frankfort, KY.
For their overall performance during the 2011-12 season, the Mid-South Conference honored the Patriots with multiple awards. Head Coach Melissa Irvin earned her first Coach of the Year award, with her eleventh 20 plus win season. Senior Lauren Wombles (London, KY) also took the top award with the MSC Player of the Year, averaging 19.4 points per game, 8.1 rebounds, and ranking in the top five in six individual categories nationally. Senior Jade Howard (Salyersville, KY) had a phenomenal season as well, being recognized as a 1st Team All-Conference selection, while senior Haley Ratliff (Pikeville, KY) received Honorable Mention. Five players also earned Academic All-Conference Awards as well: Lauren Wombles, Jackie Alexander (Brodhead, KY), Haley Ratliff, Thali Rodrigues (Malmo, Sweden), and Jessica Upchurch (Stanford, KY).
After winning the MSC Tournament, the University of the Cumberlands Women's Basketball team received an automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament in Frankfort, KY. This was Coach Irvin's tenth trip to the NAIA National Tournament since she began her Cumberlands coaching career in 1997. The Patriot ladies took on Rogers State University (OK) in the first round and fell in a heart-breaking overtime loss 80-73 to end the unforgettable season. Senior Lauren Wombles earned yet another award to her collection as she was named to the State Farm WBCA All American team as well as All-American 1st team status by the NAIA. Wombles led the Patriots in scoring this season with 635 points, breaking the school record for most points in a career with 2,098. She also pulled down 8.2 rebounds a game, also giving her the record for total rebounds in the history of Cumberlands women's basketball history with 926 rebounds. Wombles also broke school records for most points in a season (635), most field goals attempted in a career (1,614), and most free throws made in a career (430).
Seniors Lauren Wombles, Haley Ratliff, Jade Howard, and Amanda Brimm (Williamsburg, KY) will be graduating this year. All four have had a strong impact on the accomplishments of this year's team as well as past teams throughout their 4 years.
The graduating seniors have been working beside their teammates who will return to take over the team; the women are prepared to continue to work toward the NAIA National Tournament in efforts to claim a National Championship and continue the legacy that is known as University of the Cumberlands Women's Basketball.