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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the recent wins and move up in the AAC Standings the Lady Bulldogs have now found themselves in the NAIA Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. Tennessee Wesleyan received 85 points to land in the 25th spot.
For the first time since the 2011-12 season, two teams share the No. 1 ranking as Saint Francis (Ind.) and Northwestern (Iowa) are tied atop the fourth regular-season edition of the 2013-14 NAIA Division II Women's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Poll. Saint Francis and Northwestern, who are the NAIA's only remaining unbeaten teams in Division II women's basketball, both garnered seven first-place votes and 368 points in this week's edition.
Saint Francis, which is making its 15th all-time and third-straight appearance at No. 1, improved to 18-0 with wins against Crossroads League rivals Bethel (Ind.) on Jan. 8 and Grace (Ind.) on Jan. 11. Saint Francis showcases arguably the NAIA's best offensive attack, leading the nation in field goal percentage (50.2 percent), while also ranking among the top five in scoring offense per game (89.4) and total scoring (1,610). Forward Akyah Taylor, who has scored at least 18 points in 12-straight games, leads the Cougars' quartet of individuals averaging double-figure scoring.
Northwestern moved up one spot after winning its 17th-straight with a dominating 86-68 victory over No. 7 Concordia (Neb.) last Saturday in the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball Game of the Week. The Red Raiders overcame 23 turnovers by shooting 46.9 percent (30-of-64) from the field, including a 10-for-20 effort from beyond the arc, and holding a 50-35 advantage in rebounding. On the year, Northwestern is second in the NAIA in scoring offense (93.2) and rebound margin (12.5).
Rounding out the top five this week are No. 3 Jamestown (N.D.) with 343 points, No. 4 Davenport (Mich.) with 341 points and No. 5 Indiana Wesleyan with 327 points. All three clubs were unbeaten last week.
No. 22 Friends (Kan.), which received its first Top 25 ranking of the year last week, jumped a poll-high three positions this edition. The Falcons have won seven-straight en route to a 14-4 overall record and 5-1 mark in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference – one game behind conference leader No. 11 Southwestern (Kan.).
Conversely, Point Park (Pa.) fell the furthest within the poll, dropping three places from No. 18 to No. 21, after having its 14-game winning streak snapped with a loss at Berea (Ky.), 65-57, on Jan. 10. The Pioneers bounced back in their next contest with a 94-83 win at Alice Lloyd (Ky.) on Jan. 11 to improve to 15-1 on the year.
Two newcomers joined the poll, as Purdue Calumet (Ind.) checks in at No. 24 and Tennessee Wesleyan is No. 25. Tennessee Wesleyan's ranking is the first Top 25 mention for the Lady Bulldogs since the 2012-13 Preseason Poll on Oct. 23, 2012. Purdue Calumet was ranked earlier this season.
Briar Cliff (Iowa) (No. 23) and Huntington (Ind.) (No. 22) dropped from the poll. For Briar Cliff, the fallout snaps a streak of 37-straight Top 25 mentions dating back to the 2010-11 season.
The Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) – Northwestern, Concordia, No. 9 Morningside (Iowa) and No. 10 Hastings (Neb.) – and Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) – No. 6 Cardinal Stritch (Wis.), No. 8 Saint Xavier (Ill.), No. 17 Roosevelt (Ill.) and Purdue Calumet – are tied for the lead with four programs among the Top 25.
The fifth regular-season Top 25 poll will be announced Jan. 21.
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.