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Top 25 Poll - Preseason

October 24, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Two-time defending national champion Northwestern (Iowa) begins the 2011-12 season ranked No. 1 in the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Preseason Poll, the national office announced Monday. The Red Raiders, who defeated Davenport (Mich.), 88-83, in the March 15, 2011, title game in Sioux City, Iowa, took 13 of 14 first-place votes as it earned 374 points.

Northwestern is back at the top after spending the final eight polls of last season at No. 2. The Red Raiders had been ranked No. 1 in the first four polls of the 2010-11 season until a Dec. 29, 2010, loss to eventual runner-up Davenport. NAIA First-Team All-American Kendra DeJong, who averaged 18 points and nine rebounds last season, headlines a potent group of returnees for Northwestern.

The Red Raiders are followed by another Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) school in No. 2 Morningside (Iowa). The second-ranked Mustangs, who ranked in the top five in all 12 polls in 2010-11, netted 360 points. No. 3 Indiana Wesleyan grabbed 341 points, No. 4 Kansas Wesleyan nabbed 339 points and No. 5 Briar Cliff (Iowa), the third GPAC squad in the top five, tallied 311 points.

Indiana Northwest, who was receiving votes in last season's final poll, leaped up to No. 18 thanks in large part to the return of one of the NAIA's top players. Senior forward Sharon Houston, a two-time NAIA All-American, led the NAIA in rebounds and blocks as a junior. The RedHawks received a first-place nod. Similarly, Southwestern (Kan.), Huntington (Ind.) and Cornerstone (Mich.) filled spots 12-through-14 after receiving votes in the final poll.

In total, 11 squads entered the Top 25 after going unranked in the last poll of 2010-11 season. No. 20 Grand View (Iowa), who last appeared in the rankings in the preseason poll a year ago, joins No. 22 Concordia (Neb.) as the only two Top-25 schools that finished under .500 last season. No. 24 Grace (Ind.) had a final mark of 17-17.

Unranked Daemen (N.Y.), who was 12th in last season's final poll, was the highest ranked team to fall from the rankings after the loss of American Mideast Conference Player of the Year Sarah Soroka. Marian (Ind.), ranked 15th in the last poll, and Valley City State (N.D.), No. 19 in the 2010-11 final poll, also dropped out of the Top 25. Meanwhile, Davenport fell 10 spots to No. 11.

Both the GPAC and the Mid-Central College Conference (MCCC) garnered four member schools in the rankings to lead all leagues. Northwestern, Morningside, Briar Cliff and Concordia represent the GPAC. The MCCC placed Indiana Wesleyan, No. 7 Saint Francis (Ind.), Huntington and Grace in the poll.

The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and independents. The first regular-season poll will be announced on Nov. 28.

Notes: (all information as of the 1999-2000 season) Northwestern (Iowa) has now appeared at the No. 1 spot 10 times ... Davenport (Mich.) had been ranked either No. 1 or 2 in every poll since the 2009-10 preseason edition ... Northwestern and Davenport both suffered one loss last season, tying for the least defeats among Top-25 teams ... Indiana Northwest is ranked for the first time ... No team remained in the same position that it sat at in last season's final poll ... The 11 teams new to the this edition's Top 25 is five more than in last year's preseason poll.

RANK LAST TIME^ SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)
2010-11 RECORD TOTAL POINTS
1 2 Northwestern (Iowa) (13) 35-1 374
2 3 Morningside (Iowa) 29-6 360
3 7 Indiana Wesleyan 29-6 341
4 5 Kansas Wesleyan 31-3 339
5 17 Briar Cliff (Iowa) 21-13 311
6 9 College of the Ozarks (Mo.) 28-6 310
7 8 Saint Francis (Ind.) 25-9 300
8 22 Concordia (Mich.) 23-11 296
9 14 Tennessee Wesleyan 30-4 273
10 10 St. Ambrose (Iowa) 29-5 271
11 1 Davenport (Mich.) 37-1 268
12 RV Southwestern (Kan.) 22-8 229
13 RV Huntington (Ind.) 19-11 219
14 RV Cornerstone (Mich.) 22-10 194
15 23 Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) 24-8 173
16 RV Corban (Ore.) 19-11 164
17 13 Sterling (Kan.) 27-6 163
18 RV Indiana Northwest (1) 22-9 154
19 16 Indiana Southeast 27-6 145
20 NR Grand View (Iowa) 14-17 139
21 RV Milligan (Tenn.) 24-9 132
22 NR Concordia (Neb.) 15-17 108
23 NR Eastern Oregon 19-10 92
24 NR Grace (Ind.) 17-17 70
25 NR Mount Mercy (Iowa) 19-13 66

Others receiving votes: St. Thomas (Fla.) 61; Daemen (N.Y.) 50; Holy Names (Calif.) 47; Jamestown (N.D.) 39; Montreat (N.C.) 35; Dordt (Iowa) 31; Warner Pacific (Ore.) 28; Roberts Wesleyan (N.Y.) 25; William Penn (Iowa) 20; Marian (Ind.) 17; Brescia (Ky.) 16; Union (Ky.) 15; Valley City State (N.D.) 12; Saint Mary (Neb.) 7; Ave Maria (Fla.) 4; Trinity International (Ill.) 3; Concordia (Ore.) 3; Taylor (Ind.) 1; Indiana Tech 1; Mount Marty (S.D.) 1; Iowa Wesleyan 1; Friends (Kan.) 1.

^Rating from the 2010-11 final regular-season Top 25 Poll