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USF now 3rd in National Poll

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - No. 1 Davenport (Mich.) maintains a grip on the top spot of the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the NAIA announced Monday. For the second-straight week, the undefeated Panthers were a unanimous selection, collecting all 15 possible first-place votes and tallying 405 points. Northwestern (Iowa) grabbed a top-five win and holds steady at No. 2 with 392 points. With 377 points, Sioux Falls (S.D.) slides up into the No. 3 spot. Rounding out the top five is No. 4 Morningside (Iowa) with 367 points, along with Saint Francis (Ind.) and Black Hills State (S.D.) tied at No. 5 with 342 points each.

Since taking over at No. 1 in the Jan. 10 poll, the top-ranked Panthers have ran away with two blowout victories over Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference opponents Northwestern Ohio and Aquinas (Mich.). Davenport (21-0, 7-0 WHAC) defeated Northwestern Ohio 102-63 on Jan. 12 and extended its winning streak to 21 games with a win over Aquinas 84-59 on Jan. 15. Up next for the Panthers is a home bout with No. 14 Cornerstone (Mich.).

Northwestern (19-1, 10-0 Great Plains Athletic Conference) cemented its No. 2 position on the poll with a win on the road at No. 3 Sioux Falls on Jan. 11. With a 40-36 lead at halftime, the Red Raiders put up 57 points in the second half to secure a 97-83 victory. Northwestern returned home and recorded a 101-62 win against Doane (Neb.) on Jan. 15. Becca Hurley and Kendra De Jong scored 22 and 21 points, respectively.

No. 3 Sioux Falls had the toughest slate of the week, going head-to-head with two top-five squads in No. 2 Northwestern and No. 4 Morningside. The Cougars were able to rebound from the 97-83 loss with a 70-66 win over the fourth-ranked Mustangs on Jan. 15. USF was led by Holli Aggen’s 19 points, five rebounds and four assists. On the defensive front, the Cougars held 2010 NAIA All-American Tanaeya Worden to 13 points on 3-of-16 shooting.

Morningside, who won the first meeting against Sioux Falls 62-61 on Dec. 1, came up empty-handed in the second dual. The Mustangs swap spots with the Cougars, but remain a stronghold in the top-five at 16-3, 7-2 GPAC. Morningside finished out the weekend with a 63-52 home win over Dickinson State (N.D.) on Jan. 16.

Saint Francis reappears in the top-five for the first time since the Nov. 29 poll where it sat at No. 4. The Cougars are riding an eight-game winning streak with recent wins over then-No. 6 Indiana Wesleyan and Grace (Ind.). Julie Seiss led the charge for Saint Francis with 29 points and five rebounds in the 76-65 win over Indiana Wesleyan on Jan. 12. The team improved to 17-4, 6-1 Mid-Central College Conference with a 21-point road win at Grace on Jan. 15.

Black Hills State (S.D.), who was ranked fourth in the preseason poll is making its first return to the top-five since Oct. 25. The Yellow Jackets have won nine straight games including back-to-back games on the road last week against Mayville State (N.D.) and Dakota State (S.D.). They defeated Mayville State 74-63 on Jan. 14 and then posted a 72-41 victory over Dakota State on Jan. 15.

Twelve conferences are represented on the Top 25 poll, led by the GPAC with five teams: Northwestern, Sioux Falls, Morningside, No. 18 Briar Cliff (Iowa) and No. 22 Mount Marty (S.D.). Three conferences, American Mideast Conference, Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and MCCC had a trio of teams garner national ranking.

No. 7 Kansas Wesleyan had its 16-game winning streak broken in a 78-75 loss at home to Friends (Kan.) on Jan. 13. The loss leaves Davenport as the only unbeaten team remaining in Division II this season.

Five teams previously unranked found their way into the Top 25 this week. Briar Cliff jumped all the way up to No. 18. Joining the Chargers were No. 20 Northwest (Wash.), No. 21 Tennessee Wesleyan, No. 23 Indiana Southeast and No. 25 Marian (Ind.). Northwest, Tennessee Wesleyan and Marian are making their first appearances on the poll this season.
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