By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Saint Francis (Ind.) holds the No. 1 ranking for the sixth time this season in the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Cougars were the unanimous selection in the seventh regular-season edition, garnering all 14 first-place votes and 374 total points. Saint Francis has made 18 all-time appearances at No. 1 dating back to the 1999-2000 season, which ranks third all-time during that span.
Saint Francis is the only remaining unbeaten team in NAIA Division II women’s basketball with a 24-0 record. The Cougars, who boast a 12-0 mark in the Crossroads League, extended their advantage in the conference standings with a 73-57 victory at then-No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan last Saturday in the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Game of the Week. A key to the Cougar’s success against Indiana Wesleyan was free throw shooting, as Saint Francis shot 88.6 percent (31-for-35) and outscored the Wildcats, 31-9, at the charity stripe. On the season, Saint Francis leads the NAIA in field goal percentage (.492), while also ranking among the top 10 nationally in total scoring offense (4th; 2,086), scoring offense per game (4th; 86.9), scoring margin (9th; 18.5) and free throw percentage (9th; .744).
Checking in at No. 2 for the second-straight week is Davenport (Mich.) with 362 points. The Panthers are 22-1 on the season, including victories at Lawrence Tech (Mich.), 84-58, and Madonna (Mich.), 80-67, last week. Davenport’s only loss of the season came against Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) rival No. 23 Cornerstone (Mich.), 83-76, on Nov. 20. With six games remaining in the conference’s regular season, the Panthers have a three-game lead.
Dropping one spot this week is No. 3 Northwestern (Iowa) with 346 points. The Red Raiders, who opened the season with 18-straight wins, are 2-2 in the last four contests with wins coming against Nebraska Wesleyan, 103-53, on Jan. 25, and Midland (Neb.), 95-79, on Feb. 1.
Rounding out the top five are No. 4 Jamestown (N.D.) and No. 5 Hastings (Neb.). The Jimmies, who had a 15-game winning streak snapped in an 83-75 loss against No. 13 Mayville State (N.D.) in the two sides’ North Star Athletic Association (North Star) opener on Jan. 22, have won two-straight en route to a 20-2 record and 2-1 mark in the North Star.
Hastings, which opened the year unranked, is appearing in the top five for the first time since Nov. 28, 2011. The Broncos, who are 21-2 on the year, ride a 15-game winning streak into the week and are tied atop the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) standings with Northwestern at 12-2. Northwestern and Hastings will meet up in each team’s regular-season finale on Feb. 22.
Hastings and No. 6 Saint Xavier (Ill.) jumped a poll-high two spots this week, while No. 7 Indiana Wesleyan dropped four positions after its aforementioned loss to top-ranked Saint Francis. In total, only 10 teams shifted within the poll.
No. 25 Point Park (Pa.) is this week’s lone newcomer. The Pioneers, who return to the poll after a two-week hiatus, enter the week atop the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings with a 23-2 record and 10-2 mark in the league.
The GPAC leads all conferences with four teams represented in the Top 25, followed by the Crossroads League, WHAC and Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, which are tied for second with three teams each. In all, 12 of the 14 conferences/independents are represented in this week’s poll.
The eighth regular-season Top 25 poll will be announced Feb. 11.
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.) tops the poll for the sixth-straight time this season … Three teams have ranked No. 1 in the Coaches’ Poll this season: Saint Francis, 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 18 … 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 (124), College of the Ozarks (117) and Saint Xavier (Ill.) (111) 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 Great Plains Athletic Conference is Indiana Wesleyan (2007, 2013) … The Crossroads League has boasted two top-five teams in each of this season’s seven 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-nine teams have been ranked in 2013-14 … Twelve of the 14 conferences and independents are represented in the seventh regular-season Top 25 poll.2013-14 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 - Poll 7 (Feb. 4)
|RANK||LAST TIME||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2013-14 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Saint Francis (Ind.) (14)||24-0||374|
|6||8||Saint Xavier (Ill.)||21-3||319|
|8||6||Cardinal Stritch (Wis.)||20-3||287|
|12||12||College of Saint Mary (Neb.)||16-4||237|
|13||13||Mayville State (N.D.)||18-2||234|
|15||15||College of the Ozarks (Mo.)||18-5||198|
|16||17||St. Ambrose (Iowa)||18-5||182|
|18||18||Purdue Calumet (Ind.)||17-5||163|
|19||19||Siena Heights (Mich.)||18-6||161|
|25||RV||Point Park (Pa.)||23-2||89|
Others Receiving Votes: Mount Mercy (Iowa) 59; Union (Ky.) 46; Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 45; Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) 42; Roosevelt (Ill.) 23; Tabor (Kan.) 9; IU Northwest (Ind.) 9; College of Idaho 5; Asbury (Ky.) 5; St. Thomas (Fla.) 4; Bryan (Tenn.) 4.