Once again, the Connecticut Huskies are the unanimous choice as the top team in women’s college basketball rankings this week.
UConn (6-0) received all 32 of the first place votes (800 total points) in the Associated Press‘ Top-25 Poll for the third consecutive week and fourth time this year. The Huskies went 3-0 during the week, which included a 91-81 victory over No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday. The 10-point margin was UConn’s smallest this season.
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Breanna Stewart, who was 12-of-18 from the floor, led four UConn players in double-figures against Notre Dame with 28 points along with 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. The game marked Stewart’s fifth game with at least 20 points and her third double-double of the season. She is averaging 24.2 points along with 8.8 rebounds while shooting 62.4 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Morgan Tuck also had a fine all-around game against the Irish for the Huskies, posting 21 points along with eight assists and seven caroms. Moriah Jefferson added 14 points and Katie Lou Samuelson chipped in with 13. The victory over the Irish was the Huskies second straight over a top-25 teams as they defeated then-No.23 DePaul (86-70) on Wednesday behind a season-high 29 points by Stewart.
UConn opened the week by cruising past Chattanooga (79-31).
Samuelson, the Huskies highly touted freshman, was named the American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Week, according to the UConn Athletic Department. She averaged 11.5 points and shot 61.0 percent from the field as well as 50.0 percent from beyond the arc in the victories over Notre Dame and DePaul.
The Huskies enter this week’s games at Colgate (1-5) on Wednesday and at home versus No. 11 Florida State (7-1) on Friday on a 43 game-winning streak. Connecticut is one of 17 undefeated teams left in Division I and eight of those teams are ranked in the AP poll.
South Carolina (8-0) is ranked No. 2 for the fifth consecutive week and received 764 points, which is four more points than they received a week ago. The Gamecocks defeated Duke (66-55) for their lone win of the week.
The rest of the top five remains unchanged. Notre Dame (7-1) is No. 3, Baylor (9-0) is No.4 and Maryland (8-0) is No. 5. The Lady Bears closed the gap between them and the Irish to three points after Baylor won all three of their games by 42 or more points. Notre Dame eked out a 75-72 overtime win over Ohio State before dropping their game to UConn. Brianna Turner, who is out indefinitely after dislocating her finger early last week, and Taya Reimer, a starter, missed Saturday’s game against the top-ranked Huskies. While the top-five is unchanged, the Texas Longhorns (7-0) did receive enough points to tie Maryland for the fifth spot with 634 points. The Longhorns were ranked No. 6 last week but were just three points behind the Terrapins.
Oregon State (5-0), Tennessee (5-1), Mississippi State (5-0) and Ohio State (4-2) round out the top-10 in the poll. The next four teams Florida State (7-1), Northwestern (8-0), Duke (7-2) and Stanford (6-1) all moved up in the poll.
The Associated Press reported that Northwestern is up to its best ranking since 1992 when they were No. 11 for two weeks. Texas A&M (6-2) fell three spots and Tennessee (6-2) dropped eight places to No. 15 and No. 16 respectively. No. 17 Oklahoma (7-1), No. 18 DePaul (6-2), No.19 Syracuse (5-2), No. 20 UCLA (4-2), No. 21 South Florida (5-2), No. 22 California (6-2), No. 23 Iowa (8-1), No. 24 Arizona State (4-3) and No.25 Michigan State (5-2). Iowa is the lone newcomer to this weeks rankings as Seton Hall dropped out.
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There was a lot of movement in the bottom-15 spots of the poll due to the fact that 12 ranked teams lost this past week. Six of those losses came against unranked teams, with perhaps the biggest being Tennessee’s 57-43 setback ost to Virginia Tech.
“I really think there is more parity in women’s basketball than I have ever seen before,” said DePaul head coach Doug Bruno. “Connecticut is in a class by themselves, but there’s going to be three other teams going to Indianapolis with them for the Final Four.”
[Photo by Jessica Hill/Associated Press]