By: Sam Knehans, Communications and Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Saint Francis (Ind.) tops the second regular-season NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Cougars, who are one of four remaining unbeaten teams, received 11-of-14 first-place votes and 372 total points to earn their 13th all-time No. 1 ranking—and first since Jan. 9, 2001. The ranking moves the Cougars into a four-way tie with Concordia (Neb.), Davenport (Mich.) and Hastings (Neb.) for third place on the all-time No. 1 rankings list.
The Cougars are one of three programs to have recorded 12 wins on the season and have outscored their opponents by an average of 17.58 points per game. Saint Francis boasts an NAIA-best .498 field goal percentage and also ranks among the top 10 teams in total scoring offense (3rd, 1077 points), scoring offense per game (5th, 89.75 points) and total steals (8th, 142). Four players average over 10 points per game for the Cougars, including two—Skylarr Shurn (21.00) and Akyah Taylor (20.58)—who average over 20 points per game. Shurn (3rd, 252 points) and Taylor (5th, 247 points) rank among the top five scorers nationally. Saint Francis earns the No. 1 position for the first time this season after beating defending national champion and former-No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan, 85-76, on Dec. 7.
Northwestern (Iowa), accumulated three first-place votes and 364 total points en route to the No. 2 position. The Raiders are 12-0 on the season and have outscored their opponents by an NAIA-leading 29.58 points per game. Northwestern possesses arguably the best offense in the nation, ranking among the top 10 in total rebounding margin (1st, 14.25), total assists (2nd, 247), scoring offense per game (2nd, 96.33 points), total scoring offense (2nd, 1156 points), field goal percentage (3rd, .491), total offensive rebounds (4th, 580), total steals (4th, 147), three-point field goal percentage (5th, .365), total rebounds per game (5th, 48.33), defensive rebounds per game (5th, 32.25), assists per game (6th, 20.58), assist to turnover ratio (9th, 1.17), offensive rebounds per game (10th, 16.08) and steals per game (10th, 12.25).
Defending national champion Indiana Wesleyan accrued 350 points, landing at No. 3. The Wildcats are 9-1 on the season, their only hiccup coming against No. 1 Saint Francis (Ind.) on Dec. 7. A stout defensive team—the Wildcats allow an NAIA-low 52.2 points per game—Indiana Wesleyan has given up more than 50 points in just three games this year. On offense, the Wildcats showcase a balanced attack with three players averaging at least 10 points per game, and three more averaging at least five. Much of this offense comes from beyond the arc, where Indiana Wesleyan boasts an NAIA-leading .414 three-point field goal percentage.
No. 4 Davenport and No. 5 Jamestown (N.D.) round out the top five with 337 and 324 points, respectively. The Panthers (10-1) and the Jimmies (11-1) are both one-loss clubs that have outscored their opponents by an average of over 18 points per game this season. Davenport’s lone loss came against unranked Cornerstone (Mich.), 83-76, on Nov. 20. The lone defeat for Jamestown came against No. 2 Northwestern, 96-86, on Nov. 1.
Within the poll, No. 16 Hastings made the largest jump, moving up six spots, while No. 11 Roosevelt (Ill.) and No. 15 College of the Ozarks (Mo.) each fell six positions.
No. 18 Aquinas (Mich.), No. 24 Eastern Oregon and No. 25 Bryan (Tenn.) were the newcomers to this week’s Top 25. This is the first Top 25 mention for Aquinas (Feb. 25, 2010) and Bryan (Jan. 11, 2010) since the 2009-10 season. Eastern Oregon returns to the poll after a one-week hiatus.
Purdue Calumet (Ind.), Union (Ky.) and Northwestern Ohio fell out of the Top 25.
The Great Plain Athletic Conference (GPAC) leads all conferences and independents with six teams among the Top 25. Northwestern, No. 7 Concordia, No. 10 Midland (Neb.), No. 13 Morningside (Iowa), Hastings and No. 19 Briar Cliff (Iowa).
The third 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 Coaches’ Top 25 Poll schedule, click here.
Notes: (All information dates back to the 1999 – 2000 season) No. 1 Saint Francis (Ind.) is the second team to top the Coaches’ Poll during the 2013-14 season, after Indiana Wesleyan held the No. 1 position in two polls… Indiana Wesleyan has appeared at the top of the poll on 35 occasions, the most of any program, followed by Morningside (Iowa) with 20… Fourteen different teams have earned the No. 1 ranking all-time… Three schools have spent an entire season ranked No. 1: Morningside in 2008-09, College of the Ozarks (Mo.) in 2007-08 and Saint Francis (Ind.) in 1999-2000… In the last 13 years, six teams that were ranked No. 1 in the preseason have gone on to win the national championship, with the last being Northwestern (Iowa) in 2011 and 2012… Morningside (119), College of the Ozarks (112) and Saint Xavier (Ill.) (106) are the only teams that have been ranked in the Top 25 for over 100 consecutive weeks… Since 2007, the only national champion to hail from a conference other than the GPAC is Indiana Wesleyan (2007, 2013)… The Crossroads League has boasted two top-five teams in each of this season’s three polls… Twelve of the 14 conferences and independents are represented in the second regular-season Top 25 poll.
2013 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 - Poll 2 (Dec. 10)
|RANK||LAST TIME^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2013-14 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||T2||Saint Francis (Ind.)||12-0||372|
|6||8||Cardinal Stritch (Wis.)||8-1||309|
|8||13||Saint Xavier (Ill.)||8-3||277|
|12||14||College of Saint Mary (Neb.)||8-2||248|
|15||9||College of the Ozarks (Mo.)||8-4||219|
|19||15||Briar Cliff (Iowa)||8-3||143|
|20||25||Mayville State (N.D.)||8-2||135|
|21||24||Point Park (Pa.)||9-0||126|
|23||20||St. Ambrose (Iowa)||6-4||78|
Others Receiving Votes: Purdue Calumet (Ind.) 64; Huntington (Ind.) 46; Friends (Kan.) 46; Union (Ky.) 45; Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 35; Indiana Tech 35; Mount Mercy (Iowa) 21; Indiana Northwest 11; Ave Maria (Fla.) 11; Northwestern Ohio 9; Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) 6; Cornerstone (Mich.) 6; Indiana South Bend 5; Milligan (Tenn.) 3; Indiana Southeast 3.
^ 2013 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – No. 1 (Dec. 3)