KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Vanguard (Calif.) sits atop the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll for the sixth-straight edition, the national office announced Tuesday. The Lions accumulated nine first-place votes and 250 total points to earn their 34th 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 15-0, returns to action on Jan. 28 against Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) foe, and receiving votes team, Concordia (Calif.). The Lions, who are looking to earn their first GSAC regular-season title since 2010, rank among the top five nationally in nine statistical categories and are outscoring their opponents by over 31 points per game. Vanguard is led by senior guards Nicole Ballestero, who ranks second nationally in points per game (23.07) and third in 3-point field goal percentage (.500), and Taylor Belmont, who leads the nation in assists per game (7.67).
Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), the nation’s other undefeated team at 19-0, 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 11-0 in the league with wins over Williams Baptist (Ark.), 84-61, and William Woods (Mo.), 94-57, last week. With this week’s ranking, Freed-Hardeman has now been ranked among the top three nationally in 17 of the last 18 polls—the lone exception being the Preseason Poll on Oct. 29, 2013.
Westminster (Utah) accrued 230 points to hold the No. 3 position. The Griffins are 14-2 on the season, including an unblemished 8-0 mark in the Frontier Conference. Paced by NAIA-leader Alli Winters (.591), Westminster leads the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (.415).
No. 4 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) and No. 5 Oklahoma Baptist round out the top five with 228 and 221 points, respectively. The Pioneers are 17-1 on the year—and 9-0 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference—after last week’s wins over Avila (Mo.), 67-41, and Graceland (Iowa), 89-67. The Bison are 17-2 on the season and earn their second-straight top-five mention after besting then-No. 3 Oklahoma City. 85-79, on Jan. 16. Last week, the Bison went 3-0 with wins over St. Gregory’s (Okla.), John Brown (Ark.) and Texas Wesleyan, moving to 9-0 in Sooner Athletic Conference play.
Within the poll, No. 17 Hope International (Calif.) made the largest improvement, moving up four positions. The Royals are 14-4 on the season, including a 3-1 record in the GSAC. Conversely, Martin Methodist (Tenn.) fell three spots to No. 22 after a poll-best five spot jump last week. The RedHawks are 15-4 on the season and 8-2 in the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC).
No. 25 LSU Shreveport (La.) was the lone newcomer to this week’s Top 25. The Pilots return to the rankings after a one-week hiatus courtesy of a resume-building, 84-71, win over then-No. 11 Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) on Jan. 25.
Coastal Georgia (No. 24) fell out of the poll.
The GSAC leads all conferences with four programs among the Top 25: Vanguard, No. 9 The Master’s (Calif.), No. 14 Westmont (Calif.) and Hope International.
The sixth regular-season Top 25 Poll will be announced Feb. 4.
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 34th all-time and sixth-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 (34) 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 171 polls… Vanguard has appeared in 138-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. 5 (Jan. 28)
|RANK||LAST TIME||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2013-14 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Vanguard (Calif.) (9)||15-0||250|
|2||2||Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) (1)||19-0||242|
|4||4||MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)||17-1||228|
|9||9||The Master's (Calif.)||16-3||192|
|10||11||Our Lady of the Lake (Texas)||15-2||174|
|13||14||Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||20-2||152|
|T17||21||Hope International (Calif.)||14-4||119|
|19||18||John Brown (Ark.)||14-4||117|
|22||19||Martin Methodist (Tenn.)||15-4||83|
|25||RV||LSU Shreveport (La.)||14-5||53|
Others Receiving Votes: Central Methodist (Mo.) 42; Coastal Georgia 38; Lyon (Ark.) 37; Benedictine (Kan.) 26; Southern Poly (Ga.) 13; Wayland Baptist (Texas) 6; Concordia (Calif.) 5; Loyola (La.) 3.