By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the first time since the 2011-12 season, two teams share the No. 1 ranking as Saint Francis (Ind.) and Northwestern (Iowa) are tied atop the fourth regular-season edition of the 2013-14 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. Saint Francis and Northwestern, who are the NAIA’s only remaining unbeaten teams in Division II women’s basketball, both garnered seven first-place votes and 368 points in this week’s edition.
Saint Francis, which is making its 15th all-time and third-straight appearance at No. 1, improved to 18-0 with wins against Crossroads League rivals Bethel (Ind.) on Jan. 8 and Grace (Ind.) on Jan. 11. Saint Francis showcases arguably the NAIA’s best offensive attack, leading the nation in field goal percentage (50.2 percent), while also ranking among the top five in scoring offense per game (89.4) and total scoring (1,610). Forward Akyah Taylor, who has scored at least 18 points in 12-straight games, leads the Cougars’ quartet of individuals averaging double-figure scoring.
Northwestern moved up one spot after winning its 17th-straight with a dominating 86-68 victory over No. 7 Concordia (Neb.) last Saturday in the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Game of the Week. The Red Raiders overcame 23 turnovers by shooting 46.9 percent (30-of-64) from the field, including a 10-for-20 effort from beyond the arc, and holding a 50-35 advantage in rebounding. On the year, Northwestern is second in the NAIA in scoring offense (93.2) and rebound margin (12.5).
Rounding out the top five this week are No. 3 Jamestown (N.D.) with 343 points, No. 4 Davenport (Mich.) with 341 points and No. 5 Indiana Wesleyan with 327 points. All three clubs were unbeaten last week.
No. 22 Friends (Kan.), which received its first Top 25 ranking of the year last week, jumped a poll-high three positions this edition. The Falcons have won seven-straight en route to a 14-4 overall record and 5-1 mark in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference – one game behind conference leader No. 11 Southwestern (Kan.).
Conversely, Point Park (Pa.) fell the furthest within the poll, dropping three places from No. 18 to No. 21, after having its 14-game winning streak snapped with a loss at Berea (Ky.), 65-57, on Jan. 10. The Pioneers bounced back in their next contest with a 94-83 win at Alice Lloyd (Ky.) on Jan. 11 to improve to 15-1 on the year.
Two newcomers joined the poll, as Purdue Calumet (Ind.) checks in at No. 24 and Tennessee Wesleyan is No. 25. Tennessee Wesleyan’s ranking is the first Top 25 mention for the Lady Bulldogs since the 2012-13 Preseason Poll on Oct. 23, 2012. Purdue Calumet was ranked earlier this season.
Briar Cliff (Iowa) (No. 23) and Huntington (Ind.) (No. 22) dropped from the poll. For Briar Cliff, the fallout snaps a streak of 37-straight Top 25 mentions dating back to the 2010-11 season.
The Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) – Northwestern, Concordia, No. 9 Morningside (Iowa) and No. 10 Hastings (Neb.) – and Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) – No. 6 Cardinal Stritch (Wis.), No. 8 Saint Xavier (Ill.), No. 17 Roosevelt (Ill.) and Purdue Calumet – are tied for the lead with four programs among the Top 25.
The fifth 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 Coaches’ Top 25 Poll schedule, click here.
Notes: (All information dates back to the 1999 – 2000 season) Saint Francis (Ind.) and Northwestern (Iowa) share the No. 1 ranking for the first time since Jan. 30, 2012 when Davenport (Mich.) and Indiana Wesleyan both claimed the top spot … Three teams have topped the Coaches’ Poll this season: Saint Francis, Northwestern and Indiana Wesleyan … Indiana Wesleyan has appeared at the top of the poll on 35 occasions, the most of any program, followed by Morningside (Iowa) with 20 and Saint Francis with 15 … 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 (121), College of the Ozarks (114) and Saint Xavier (Ill.) (108) 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 five polls… Twelve of the 14 conferences and independents are represented in the fourth regular-season Top 25 poll.2013 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 - Poll 4 (Jan. 14)
|RANK||LAST TIME||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2013-14 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|T1||1||Saint Francis (Ind.) (7)||18-0||368|
|T1||2||Northwestern (Iowa) (7)||17-0||368|
|6||6||Cardinal Stritch (Wis.)||15-1||317|
|8||8||Saint Xavier (Ill.)||15-3||295|
|12||12||College of Saint Mary (Neb.)||9-4||232|
|15||16||College of the Ozarks (Mo.)||12-4||207|
|18||19||Mayville State (N.D.)||13-2||175|
|19||21||St. Ambrose (Iowa)||12-5||146|
|21||18||Point Park (Pa.)||15-1||116|
|23||24||Siena Heights (Mich.)||13-5||107|
|24||RV||Purdue Calumet (Ind.)||12-4||88|
Others Receiving Votes: Briar Cliff (Iowa) 75; Huntington (Ind.) 53; Cornerstone (Mich.) 34; Union (Ky.) 33; Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 19; Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) 19; Mount Mercy (Iowa) 18; IU Northwest (Ind.) 16; Tabor (Kan.) 7; Corban (Ore.) 6; Bryan (Tenn.) 4; Asbury (Ky.) 3.