By: Sam Knehans, Communications & Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In the first regular-season edition, Vanguard (Calif.) again tops the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Lions, who reached the quarterfinals of last year’s NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship, received nine-of-10 first-place votes and 250 points en route to their 30th top mention dating back to the 1999-2000 season.
Vanguard, the reigning Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) Tournament champion, is predicted to win its 11th GSAC title under the leadership of three-time NAIA Coach of the Year Russ Davis. First team NAIA All-American Nicole Ballestero headlines the returners for the Lions. Ballestero has continued to display her scoring prowess, improving on her 21.4 points per game average from a year ago by averaging 23.5 points per game in the Lions six games this season. Vanguard is one of just 10 remaining undefeated teams, with a perfect 6-0 record.
Perennial powerhouse Oklahoma City—a quarterfinalist at last year’s national championship—claims the No. 2 position with one first-place vote and 241 points. The Stars have not been ranked outside of the top 10 since being No. 12 on March 11, 2009 – a span of 51-straight polls. Oklahoma City, which returns three seniors– Autumn Huffman, Kayla MacKenzie and Cara Pugh –is 3-0 on the season, having won its games by an average of 33 points. The Stars have won or shared every regular-season Sooner Athletic Conference crown since 2009.
Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), which is playing in its first season as a member of the American Midwest Conference (AMC), accumulated 235 points to earn the No. 3 position. The Lions are 7-0 on the season, including a 12-point victory over defending national champion Westmont (Calif.) on Nov. 23. The win avenged the Lions 59-49 loss to Westmont in the 2013 national championship semifinals.
Rounding out the top five are No. 4 Westminster (Utah) and No. 5 Georgetown (Ky.) with 224 and 220 points, respectively. The Griffins are 5-1 on the season, with their lone loss coming against No. 1 Vanguard on Nov. 16. The Tigers are 4-1 on the season, having lost to NAIA Division II defending national champion Indiana Wesleyan, 62-49, on Nov. 12.
The Mid-South Conference with four—Georgetown, No. 7 Campbellsville (Ky.), No. 20 Cumberlands (Ky.) and No. 22 Cumberland (Tenn.) —boasts the most teams among the Top 25. Six other conferences have three programs ranked among the Top 25.
Oklahoma Baptist, which is 7-1 this season, made the biggest improvement from the Preseason Poll —a fourteen-spot jump. Cumberland, which is 3-4 on the year, fell the furthest, dropping fifteen places.
No. 13 Talladega (Ala.), No. 14 Coastal Georgia, No. 17 John Brown (Ark.), No. 19 Central Methodist (Mo.), No. 23 Emmanuel (Ga.) and No. 24 Montana State-Northern were this week’s newcomers to the Top 25. This is the first-ever Top 25 mention for Talladega, Coastal Georgia and Emmanuel. It is the first Top 25 rating for John Brown since Jan. 24, 2011, for Central Methodist since Jan. 22, 2013 and for Montana State-Northern since Feb. 2, 2009.
The second regular-season Top 25 Poll will be announced Jan. 7.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and independents. For the entire 2013-14 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll schedule, click here.
Notes: (All information dates back to the 1999-2000 season) This is the 30th all-time and second-straight No. 1 ranking for Vanguard (Calif.)… Five teams were ranked No. 1 during the 2012-13 season: Westmont (Calif.), Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), Oklahoma City, Vanguard and former member Lubbock Christian (Texas) … Former member Union (Tenn.) leads all schools with 53, while Oklahoma City (46), Vanguard (30) and former member Southern Nazarene (Okla.) (15) are the only programs with 10-plus No. 1 rankings … Since the start of the 1999-2000 season, only Oklahoma City and Freed-Hardeman have been listed in all 167 polls … Vanguard has appeared in 134-straight … No. 4 Georgetown made its first appearance among the top five since Jan. 11, 2005 in the Preseason Poll…Thirty-five programs garnered Top 25 mention in 2012-13 … Union and Vanguard are the only programs to have spent an entire season ranked No. 1 (Union: 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11) (Vanguard: 2005-06, 2006-07).
2013-14 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – No. 1 (Dec. 10)
|RANK||LAST TIME^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2013-14 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|6||8||MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)||8-1||209|
|11||17||Our Lady of the Lake (Texas)||5-0||165|
|12||10||The Master's (Calif.)||6-3||160|
|17||RV||John Brown (Ark.)||7-1||119|
|19||RV||Central Methodist (Mo.)||8-1||101|
|25||19||William Woods (Mo.)||5-2||59|
Others Receiving Votes: Hope International (Calif.) 50; LSU Shreveport (La.) 47; Mid-America Christian (Okla.) 25; Xavier (La.) 22; Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) 19; Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 16; Martin Methodist (Tenn.) 10; San Diego Christian (Calif.) 6; Southern Poly (Ga.) 6; Lyon (Ark.) 5.
^ 2013-14 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll