KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Vanguard (Calif.) sits atop the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll for the fourth-straight edition, the national office announced Tuesday. The Lions accumulated nine first-place votes and 250 total points to earn their 32nd all-time No. 1 ranking dating back to the 1999-2000 season.
Vanguard, which is one of the NAIA’s two remaining unbeaten teams at 11-0, returns to action and opens Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) play against San Diego Christian (Calif.) on Jan. 14. Led by senior guards Nicole Ballestero, who ranks third nationally in points per game (22.91), and Taylor Belmont, who leads the nation in assists per game (7.36), the Lions will look to earn their first GSAC regular-season title since 2010.
Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), the nation’s other undefeated team at 14-0, received the remaining first-place vote and 242 total points en route to the No. 2 ranking. The Lady Lions, who are competing in their first season as a member of the American Midwest Conference (AMC), are now 6-0 in the league with wins over Missouri Baptist, 78-58, and Lyon (Ark.), 76-52, last week. With this week’s ranking, Freed-Hardeman has now been ranked among the top three nationally in 15 of the last 16 polls—the lone exception being the Preseason Poll on Oct. 29, 2013.
Oklahoma City, which has not been ranked outside the top 10 since March 11, 2009, received 233 points to earn the No. 3 position. The Stars are 9-1 on the season, including a 6-0 mark in the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC). Oklahoma City has won four-straight SAC regular-season titles and is 84-4 in the league since 2009-10. The Stars lone loss of the season came on Dec. 20 against then-No. 15 Benedictine (Kan.), 81-74.
No. 4 Westminster (Utah) and No. 5 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) round out the top five with 223 and 222 points, respectively. The Griffins are 11-2 on the season, including a 5-0 mark in the Frontier Conference, after wins over Great Falls (Mont.), 74-56, and then-No. 18 Montana State-Northern, 60-46, last week. The Pioneers are 13-1 on year—and 5-0 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference—including a win over then-No. 14 Benedictine (Kan.) on Jan. 11.
Within the poll, No. 18 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) made the largest improvement, moving up five positions. The Warriors are 18-1 on the season, including a 6-0 record in the Frontier Conference. Conversely, Benedictine (Kan.) fell nine spots to No. 23, the lowest ranking for the Ravens during their current streak of 15-straight Top 25 mentions.
Three newcomers joined the Top 25 this week: No. 21 Baker (Kan.), No. 24 Martin Methodist (Tenn.) and No. 25 LSU Shreveport (La.). This is the first-ever Top 25 mention for Baker, dating back to the 1999-2000 season. The ranking is the first for Martin Methodist since Feb. 9, 2009, while LSU Shreveport returns to the poll for the first time since being ranked No. 25 in the preseason edition.
Cumberland (Tenn.) (No. 20), Emmanuel (Ga.) (No. 22) and William Woods (Mo.) (No. 25) dropped out of the poll.
The fourth regular-season Top 25 Poll will be announced Jan. 21.
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 32nd all-time and fourth-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 in all-time No. 1 rankings with 53, while Oklahoma City (46), Vanguard (32) and former member Southern Nazarene (Okla.) (15) are the only other programs with 10-or-more No. 1 rankings… Since the start of the 1999-2000 season, only Oklahoma City and Freed-Hardeman have been listed in all 169 polls… Vanguard has appeared in 136-straight… No. 7 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. 3 (Jan. 14)
|RANK||LAST TIME||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2013-14 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Vanguard (Calif.) (9)||11-0||250|
|2||2||Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) (1)||14-0||242|
|5||5||MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)||13-1||222|
|9||9||The Master's (Calif.)||12-3||191|
|11||11||Our Lady of the Lake (Texas)||11-1||168|
|18||23||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||18-1||113|
|19||16||John Brown (Ark.)||11-3||103|
|20||24||Hope International (Calif.)||11-3||99|
|24||RV||Martin Methodist (Tenn.)||12-3||62|
|25||RV||LSU Shreveport (La.)||10-3||60|
Others Receiving Votes: Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 42; Xavier (La.) 39; Central Methodist (Mo.) 27; Mobile (Ala.) 20; Lyon (Ark.) 12; Southern Poly (Ga.) 7; Mid-America Christian (Okla.) 6; San Diego Christian (Calif.) 6.