By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For the third-straight edition, Vanguard (Calif.) tops the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Lions received all ten first-place votes and 250 points en route to their 31st top mention dating back to the 1999-2000 season.
Vanguard is one of the NAIA’s four remaining unbeaten teams at 11-0. In their most recent outing, the Lions claimed a 71-58 victory over NCCAA Bethesda (Calif.) on Jan. 4. Senior guard Nicole Ballestero continues to display her scoring prowess, leading Vanguard with a 22.9 points per game average that also ranks fourth nationally. Ballestero is also top 10 nationally in 3-point field goal percentage (51.5 percent), 3-point field goals per game (3.1) and free throw percentage (87 percent). The Lions return to action and open Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) play on Jan. 14 at San Diego Christian (Calif.).
Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) jumped one spot to No. 2 with 242 points. The Lions, who are playing in their first season as a member of the American Midwest Conference (AMC), are 12-0 on the season including a 4-0 mark in the league. With this week’s ranking, Freed-Hardeman has now been listed among the top three nationally in 15 of the last 16 polls.
Falling one spot to No. 3 is Oklahoma City with 232 points. The Stars, who have not been ranked outside of the top 10 since March 11, 2009, are 6-1 following back-to-back Sooner Athletic Conference victories against Wayland Baptist (Texas) on Jan. 2 and Northwood (Texas) on Monday. Oklahoma City’s only loss of the season came on Dec. 20 against No. 14 Benedictine (Kan.), 81-74.
Westminster (Utah) lands at No. 4 with 221 points for the second-straight poll, while MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) and Campbellsville (Ky.) are tied at No. 5 with 217 points each. The Griffins are 9-2 on the season, including a 69-46 road victory against then-No. 16 Carroll (Mont.) on Jan. 2. Both MidAmerica Nazarene and Campbellsville have only one loss this year, as the Pioneers stand at 11-1 and Campbellsville is 13-1.
Within the poll, No. 18 Montana State-Northern made the largest improvement, vaulting up six places. The Skylights are 13-2 on the season, including a 3-0 mark in the Frontier Conference. Conversely, defending national champion Westmont (Calif.) fell five spots to No. 13, which is the lowest ranking for the Warriors since being No. 20 in the 2011-12 Preseason Poll.
Two newcomers joined the Top 25 this week – No. 23 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) and No. 24 Hope International (Calif.). The ranking is the first for Lewis-Clark State since the 2012-13 Preseason Poll on Oct. 23, 2012, while Hope International is receiving its first-ever Top 25 mention, dating back to the 1999-2000 season.
Carroll (No. 16) and Central Methodist (Mo.) (No. 19) dropped out of the poll.
The third regular-season Top 25 Poll will be announced Jan. 14.
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 1999-2000) This is the 31st all-time and third-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 at No. 1 with 53, while Oklahoma City (46), Vanguard (31) 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 168 polls … Vanguard has appeared in 135-straight … No. 8 Georgetown (Ky.) 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. 2 (Jan. 7)
|RANK||LAST TIME||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2013-14 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Vanguard (Calif.) (10)||11-0||250|
|T5||6||MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)||11-1||217|
|9||12||The Master’s (Calif.)||11-3||190|
|11||11||Our Lady of the Lake (Texas)||9-1||162|
|16||17||John Brown (Ark.)||11-1||128|
|23||RV||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||16-1||80|
|24||RV||Hope International (Calif.)||10-3||67|
|25||25||William Woods (Mo.)||8-3||48|
Others receiving votes: Mid-America Christian (Okla.) 46; LSU Shreveport (La.) 31; Baker (Kan.) 21; Southern-New Orleans (La.) 21; Martin Methodist (Tenn.) 16; San Diego Christian (Calif.) 10; Central Methodist (Mo.) 9; Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 6; Xavier (La.) 5.