The Lady Mountaineers (25-3) made history last weekend by claiming the school's first-ever USA South Tournament Championship.

Now, they have a chance to do something even more special.

Berea College is set to take on Illinois-Wesleyan (19-8) in the opening round of the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

Game time is set for 5:30 p.m. today in Holland, Mich.

The winner advances to face either No. 1 Hope College or Grove City on Saturday in the second round of the 64-team tournament.

"We are ready to put Berea on the map," Berea senior Kristin Barnes said.

Berea College is making it's first appearance in the NCAA III Tournament -- and its first appearance in any national tournament since 2017 (USCAA Tournament).

The Lady Mountaineers lost in the title game of the USA South Conference Tournament each of the past two seasons, each time falling to Piedmont College.

The two teams met again last Sunday at the Seabury Center in Berea.

And this time, the Lady Mountaineers picked up a 66-58 win that secured an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

"It's always a battle with them," Berea sophomore Bailee Vanover said of Piedmont College after the game. "We really wanted to win it and we really wanted to win it on our home court."

Berea's first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament will be special -- for lots of reasons.

The trip will give the team's four seniors -- Briana Lanham, Barnes, Bethanie Williams and Nakeisha Greene -- a chance to add on to their incredible legacy.

That group has an overall record of 91-20 in their college careers.

The first and second rounds will also be played in one of the most iconic small college facilities in the country.

The DeVos Fieldhouse -- the home of Hope College athletics -- opened in 2005 and can hold 3,400 fans.

And the arena is almost always filled to capacity when the home team is on the court.

"It's going to be a great experience. This is one of, if not the best, arena in Division III," Berea College coach Trent Milby said. "We are excited to be here. We are ready to get going."

The Lady Mountaineers got a chance to practice at the facility on Thursday afternoon.

Berea has won 20 of its past 21 games and is among the NCAA leaders in several offensive categories.

The Lady Mountaineers are 18th in the nation in scoring (76.9 points a game) and 16th in the nation in scoring margin (+18.3). Berea is out-rebounding teams by an average of 13.5 boards a game, which is fourth in the nation, and is averaging 19.6 offensive rebounds a game (seventh-best in the nation).

Hopkinsville native Aaliyah Hampton has made a tremendous impact for Berea in her first college season.

She was named the USA South Freshman of the Year and the USA South Player of the Year.

Hampton is averaging 20.2 points a game and leads the nation in free throws made (160).

Greene ranks 35th in the NCAA Division III in total rebounds (280). She is also 44th in the country in offensive rebounds (4.1 a game).

The senior has more than 1,000 rebounds in her career -- a school record.

The Lady Mountaineers, admittedly, don't know much about Illinois-Wesleyan -- their first-round opponent.

"It's a lot of searching on YouTube, just trying to find out what they do," Berea College's Marly Lawson said. "Every team has strengths and weakness."

The Titans are 19-8 on the season after winning a third-straight College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Tournament championship.

Illinois-Wesleyan is making its 13th appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Titans won the national title in 2012 -- claiming the championship with a victory at DeVos Fieldhaus.

IWU has a school-record 110 rebounds this season. The Titans are also 32nd in the nation in scoring (74.6 points a game) and 28th nationally in field goal percentage (43.1).

Kendall Sosa leads IWU in scoring (20.7 points a game) and three-pointers made (67). Sydney Shanks is averaging 13 points a game with 70 steals, while Riley Brovelli is averaging 9.6 points and a team-best 8.9 rebounds a game, with 40 blocks.

"Our coaches watch the film, then they send us a scouting report. We don't really watch film as a team," Lanham said. "We worry more about ourselves."

Hope College will take on Grove City at 7:30 p.m. today at the DeVos Feldhaus.

The second-round game is set for 7 p.m. Saturday in Holland, Mich.

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