By Mike DeVader, Communications and Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, MO. – Defending national champion Saint Francis (Ind.) is the top-ranked team in the 2014-15 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday.
The Cougars swept all 14 first-place votes, while earning 374 points. Saint Francis – who beat College of the Ozarks (Mo.), 75-68, in the title game on March 18 – looks to carry the momentum from a perfect 38-0 season into its 2014 campaign to repeat as champions. The top-spot is the school’s 12th-consecutive No. 1 ranking, dating back to Dec. 10, 2013, and 24th overall dating back to 1999.
The Cougars are prepped for another run thanks to key contributors like NAIA First Team All-American Brooke Ridley returning to the court this season, along with Division I Michigan State transfer Akyah Taylor, who missed the last 25 games a season ago.
Ridley recorded her 12th double-double of the season with 13 points and 14 rebounds in the national championship victory, the first title in Saint Francis history.
Coming in at No. 2 is Morningside (Iowa) with 352 points. The Mustangs are the preseason favorite to win the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC), and are led by a plethora of returning players on their roster; most notably senior Ashlynn Muhl, who had 22 points and 12 boards against Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) in the national championship.
Morningside finished last season at 29-7, its 11th-straight 20-win season, and played in the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship for the 12th year in-a-row.
The Mustangs open the 2014-15 campaign with a home game against AIB (Iowa) on Oct. 30.
Indiana Wesleyan comes in at No. 3 with 343 points. The Wildcats find themselves two spots behind last year’s ranking at this time when they were 2013 preseason No. 1. The squad is coming off a 27-8 record where the Wildcats were dominant at home, going 14-1.
Rounding out the top five is No. 4 Davenport (Mich.) with 339 points, and Hastings (Neb.) is No. 5 with 313 points.
There are two newcomers in this week’s edition of the ratings, as No. 21 Southern Oregon and No. 23 Oklahoma Wesleyan sneak into the Top 25.
No. 6 Saint Xavier (Ill.) and No. 13 Friends (Kan.) made the biggest leaps of all schools from last year’s post season rankings, both vaulting up 10 spots. Northwestern (Iowa) dropped 12 positions to No. 15.
Eleven conferences/association of independent institutions/unaffiliated groups are represented throughout the Top 25, led by four teams from the GPAC. Four conferences are tied for second with three teams ranked in the poll.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and the Association of Independent Institutions. For the entire 2014-15 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll schedule, click here.
The first regular-season edition of the Top 25 Poll will be announced on Dec. 2.
Notes: (All information dates back to the 1999 – 2000 season) Saint Francis (Ind.) tops the poll for the 12th-straight edition … The Cougars were the first team since Morningside (Iowa) in 2009 to go undefeated … Three teams were ranked No. 1 in the Coaches’ Poll last season: Saint Francis (Ind.), Northwestern (Iowa) and Indiana Wesleyan … Indiana Wesleyan has appeared at the top of the poll on 35 occasions, the most of any program, followed by Saint Francis with 24 and Morningside (Iowa) with 20 … 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 (130) and Saint Xavier (Ill.) (117) are the only teams that have been ranked in the Top 25 for over 100 consecutive weeks… Since 2007, the only national champions to hail from a conference other than the Great Plains Athletic Conference are Indiana Wesleyan (2007, 2013) and Saint Francis (2014) … Davenport (Mich.), Indiana Wesleyan, Jamestown (N.D.), Northwestern and Saint Francis were ranked among the top 10 in every poll this year … Forty teams were ranked in 2013-14.
2014-15 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll (Oct. 28)
|RANK||LAST ^||SCHOOL (1st PLACE VOTES)||2013-14 RECORD||FINAL POINTS|
|1||1||Saint Francis (Ind.) (14)||38-0||374|
|6||16||Saint Xavier (Ill.)||27-6||309|
|8||11||College of Saint Mary (Neb.)||27-6||282|
|10||12||Purdue Calumet (Ind.)||24-7||240|
|11||13||College of the Ozarks (Mo.)||27-10||238|
|12||8||Cardinal Stritch (Wis.)||27-7||235|
|16||15||Siena Heights (Mich.)||26-9||206|
|17||10||Mayville State (N.D.)||25-4||186|
|20||19||St. Ambrose (Iowa)||26-6||141|
^ DII Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Postseason Top 25 Poll (March 26, 2014)
Others Receiving Votes: Union (Ky.), 65; Tabor (Kan.), 63; Point Park (Pa.), 59; Indiana South Bend, 42; Mount Mercy (Iowa), 23; St. Thomas (Fla.), 16; Bryan (Tenn.), 9; Rio Grande (Ohio), 9; Indiana Northwest, 8; Midland (Neb.), 7; Ave Maria (Fla.), 6; Robert Morris (Ill.), 5; Briar Cliff (Iowa), 5; Grace (Ind.), 3.