By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Saint Francis (Ind.), which is making its fourth-straight appearance at No. 1, reclaims sole possession of the top spot in the fifth regular-season edition of the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Cougars received eight first-place votes and 339 total points en route to their 16th all-time appearance at No. 1 dating back to the 1999-2000 season.
Saint Francis continued its unprecedented run through the Crossroads League with victories last week against Spring Arbor (Mich.), 75-60, and Marian (Ind.), 73-66. With the wins, the Cougars improved to a NAIA-best 20-0 overall and 8-0 in the conference. Guard Skylarr Shurn has had the hot-hand of late for Saint Francis, averaging 25 points per game and 55.8 percent (43-of-77) shooting from the field over her last five games. As a team, the Cougars are second in the NAIA in field goal percentage offense (.496), while ranking third in total scoring (1,758) and fourth in scoring offense per game (87.9).
Northwestern checks in at No. 2 with five first-place votes and 336 total points. The Red Raiders, who have been the second ranked team in the NAIA in four of the last five polls, are the NAIA’s only other unbeaten team at 18-0, including a 10-0 mark in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC). Northwestern is arguably one of the most dominant teams in NAIA basketball, ranking among the top 10 nationally in 10 statistical categories – scoring offense (2nd; 92.3), rebound margin (2nd; +11.8), scoring margin (4th; +24.5), field goal percentage (5th; .470), assists per game (5th; 19.5), free throw percentage (6th; .752), defensive rebounds per game (7th; 31.1), total rebound defense (8th; 34.1), total rebounds per game (9th; 45.9) and total assists (9th; 351). The Red Raiders face a tough test on Wednesday when they travel to No. 10 Morningside (Iowa).
Jamestown (N.D.) and Davenport (Mich.), which both boast 18-1 overall records this season, are tied at No. 3 with 314 points each. The Jimmies claimed home victories against Johnson & Wales (Colo.), 74-67, and Ashford (Iowa), 73-54, last week, while Davenport downed Marygrove (Mich.), 85-57, and Lourdes (Ohio), 75-41. Jamestown has arguably the tougher schedule among the two this week, as the Jimmies open North Star Athletic Association play against No. 16 Mayville State (N.D.) on Wednesday.
Rounding out the top five for the third-straight edition is No. 5 Indiana Wesleyan with 298 points. The Wildcats, who enter the week with a 17-3 overall record, are one game behind Saint Francis in the Crossroads League standings with a 7-1 record. Indiana Wesleyan has won eight-straight and hosts Goshen (Ind.) on Wednesday and Bethel (Ind.) on Saturday.
No. 18 Siena Heights (Mich.), propelled by a 73-69 win against then-No. 13 Aquinas (Mich.) this past week, jumped a poll-high five positions. The Saints have won 10-straight since opening the season 5-5 en route to a 15-5 record, including a 9-4 mark in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC).
No. 25 Cornerstone (Mich.) is this week’s lone newcomer. The ranking snaps a streak of 22-straight polls without a mention for the Golden Eagles, dating back to Feb. 6, 2012. Cornerstone enters the week in second-place in the WHAC standings at 9-3 – 0.5 games ahead of Siena Heights.
Point Park (Pa.) (No. 21) dropped from the poll.
The GPAC, WHAC and Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference are tied for the lead with four programs among the Top 25.
The sixth regular-season Top 25 poll will be announced Jan. 28.
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) Three teams have topped the Coaches’ Poll this season: Saint Francis (Ind.), Northwestern (Iowa) and Indiana Wesleyan … On Jan. 14, Saint Francis and Northwestern became the first teams to share the No. 1 ranking since Jan. 30, 2012 when Davenport (Mich.) and Indiana Wesleyan both claimed the top spot … 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 16 … 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 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 in 2011 and 2012 … Morningside (122), College of the Ozarks (115) and Saint Xavier (Ill.) (109) 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 six polls … Concordia (Neb.), Davenport, Indiana Wesleyan, Jamestown (N.D.), Northwestern and Saint Francis have been ranked among the top 10 in every poll this year … Thirty-eight teams have been ranked in 2013-14 … Eleven of the 14 conferences and independents are represented in the fifth regular-season Top 25 poll.2013-14 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 - Poll 5 (Jan. 21)
|RANK||LAST TIME||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2013-14 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||T1||Saint Francis (Ind.) (8)||20-0||339|
|2||T1||Northwestern (Iowa) (5)||18-0||336|
|6||6||Cardinal Stritch (Wis.)||17-1||292|
|7||8||Saint Xavier (Ill.)||17-3||272|
|12||12||College of Saint Mary (Neb.)||12-4||218|
|13||15||College of the Ozarks (Mo.)||13-4||200|
|16||18||Mayville State (N.D.)||14-2||183|
|17||19||St. Ambrose (Iowa)||14-5||150|
|18||23||Siena Heights (Mich.)||15-5||145|
|20||24||Purdue Calumet (Ind.)||14-4||133|
Others Receiving Votes: Huntington (Ind.) 59; Point Park (Pa.) 59; Union (Ky.) 40; Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 31; Mount Mercy (Iowa) 27; Indiana Northwest 19; Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) 13; Bryan (Tenn.) 6; Asbury (Ky.) 5; Tabor (Kan.) 5; Midland (Neb.) 3.