KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Vanguard (Calif.) once again sits atop the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Lions accumulated eight first-place votes and 249 total points to earn their fifth-straight and 33rd 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 13-0, returns to action on Jan. 21 against Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) foe No. 12 Westmont (Calif.). The Lions, who are looking to earn their first GSAC regular-season title since 2010, rank among the top five nationally in 10 statistical categories and are outscoring their opponents by over 33 points per game. Vanguard is led by senior guards Nicole Ballestero, who ranks second nationally in points per game (22.92) and Taylor Belmont, who leads the nation in assists per game (8.31).
Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), the nation’s other undefeated team at 17-0, received the remaining two first-place votes and 243 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 9-0 in the league with wins over Harris-Stowe (Mo.), 77-70, Park (Mo.), 83-57, and then-No. 17 Columbia (Mo.), 95-68, last week. With this week’s ranking, Freed-Hardeman has now been ranked among the top three nationally in 16 of the last 17 polls—the lone exception being the Preseason Poll on Oct. 29, 2013.
Westminster (Utah), which had been ranked No. 4 in three-straight polls, received 230 points to move up to the No. 3 position. The Griffins are 12-2 on the season, including an unblemished 6-0 mark in the Frontier Conference. Paced by NAIA-leader Alli Winters (.603), Westminster leads the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (.408).
No. 4 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) and No. 5 Oklahoma Baptist round out the top five with 228 and 220 points, respectively. The Pioneers are 15-1 on the year—and 7-0 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference—after last week’s wins over Peru State (Neb.), 83-60, and Central Methodist (Mo.), 61-59. The Bison are 14-2 on the season and earn their first top-five mention since March 2, 2010 after defeating then-No. 3 Oklahoma City, 85-79, in the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Game of the Week on Jan. 16. The loss snapped Oklahoma City’s streak of 35-straight conference victories and was just the 11th Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) loss for the Stars over the past seven seasons. Oklahoma Baptist also defeated Southwestern Christian (Okla.), 64-56, on Jan. 18 to remain the lone unbeaten in the SAC.
Within the poll, No. 19 Martin Methodist (Tenn.) made the largest improvement, moving up five positions. The RedHawks are 14-3 on the season, including a 7-1 record in the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC). Conversely, Coastal Georgia fell eight spots to No. 24, the lowest ranking of the 2013-14 regular season for the Mariners.
Two newcomers joined the Top 25 this week: No. 23 Mobile (Ala.) and No. 25 Xavier (La.). This is the first Top 25 nod for Mobile since Jan. 11, 2010. Xavier returns to the poll after being ranked No. 15 in the preseason edition.
Benedictine (Kan.) (No. 23) and LSU Shreveport (La.) (No. 25) dropped out of the poll. Benedictine had been ranked in 15-straight polls dating back to Dec. 11, 2012.
The GSAC—Vanguard, No. 9 The Master’s (Calif.), Westmont and No. 21 Hope International (Calif.) —and the SSAC—No. 15 Bethel (Tenn.), Martin Methodist, Mobile and Coastal Georgia—lead all conferences with four programs among the Top 25.
The fifth 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 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll schedule, click here.
Notes: (All information dates back to 1999-2000) This is the 33rd all-time and fifth-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 (33) 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 170 polls… Vanguard has appeared in 137-straight… No. 6 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. 4 (Jan. 21)
|RANK||LAST TIME||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2013-14 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Vanguard (Calif.) (8)||13-0||249|
|2||2||Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) (2)||17-0||243|
|4||5||MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)||15-1||228|
|9||9||The Master's (Calif.)||14-3||192|
|11||11||Our Lady of the Lake (Texas)||13-1||170|
|14||18||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||20-1||142|
|18||19||John Brown (Ark.)||13-3||118|
|19||24||Martin Methodist (Tenn.)||14-3||108|
|21||20||Hope International (Calif.)||12-4||89|
Others Receiving Votes: LSU Shreveport (La.) 49; Central Methodist (Mo.) 49; Lyon (Ark.) 28; Benedictine (Kan.) 18; Southern Poly (Ga.) 14; Cumberland (Tenn.) 6; Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 4; Southern-New Orleans (La.) 3.