LEBANON, Tenn. – Cumberland women’s basketball and ninth-ranked head coach Jeremy Lewis are ranked 22nd in the NAIA Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll released late Tuesday by the national office.
The Phoenix were picked fourth in the Mid-South Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll last week and are one of four league teams in the Top 25, with the other three ranked in the Top 10 – Shawnee State (5th), Campbellsville University (6th) and Lindsey Wilson (8th).
Lewis returns nine letterwinners but just two starters and lost the team’s top four scorers from last season, including Third Team All-American Nicole Bowers and All-Mid-South Conference honorees Taliah Moore and Julia Fox.
Senior guards Jailen Murphy (6.4 points, 3.2 rebounds) and Janisha Lindsey (5.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists) return as the club’s leading scorers from 2016-17. No other returner started more than two games or averaged more than 4.0 points or 2.2 rebounds.
Newcomers Micah Norris, a Murfreesboro native who played last season at East Tennessee State, along with Kyra Tucker (two seasons at Vincennes University), Ant’Treasia (two years at Austin Peay) and Carli Codner-Pinto (two seasons at Columbus State Community College in Ohio) are expected the fill the void this season for the Phoenix.
Cumberland also plays third-ranked Freed-Hardeman and 25th-ranked Talladega College (home-and-home) as well as one contest versus Martin Methodist, which was the second team in the Receiving Votes category.
CU reached as high as No. 14 in January last season, but a seven-game losing streak to end the year prevented the Phoenix from a third straight trip to the NAIA National Tournament. The Phoenix open the season Monday at home against Oakwood University and take on Martin Methodist next Friday, November 3.