KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Bolstered by three consecutive wins including an eight-point win over then-No. 8 Tennessee Wesleyan, Union cracked the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Poll, landing at No. 18 the national office announced Monday.
The Lady Bulldogs are currently on a three-game win streak, including a 63-55 Appalachian Athletic Conference victory over Tennessee Wesleyan, snapping its 23-game conference winning streak.
Union received 125 total points, placing it 31 behind No. 17 Grace (Ind.) and 22 ahead of No. 19 Saint Mary (Neb.).
Indiana Wesleyan is a unanimous No. 1 for a second-straight week. The Wildcats garnered all 13 first-place votes and 343 points in the second regular-season edition of the NAIA Coaches' Top 25 Poll. Indiana Wesleyan, led by 13th-year head coach Steve Brooks, are off to a 9-0 start, including a 3-0 Mid-Central College Conference (MCCC) mark.
Indiana Wesleyan has dominated in its three games versus ranked opponents, cruising by then-No. 16 (NAIA DI) Xavier (La.), then-No. 14 Cornerstone (Mich.) and then-No. 20 Grace (Ind.). 6-foot-1 senior center Krystal Stoneking leads the Wildcats in both points per game with 17.9 and rebounds per game with 7.7. As a team, Indiana Wesleyan ranks first in the NAIA in three key categories: assist-to-turnover ratio (1.198), scoring margin (27.0) and scoring defense (47.9).
Briar Cliff (Iowa) remains at No. 2 with 332 points thanks to a 9-1 record. The Chargers' only loss came to then-No. 20 Grand View (Iowa) on Nov. 5. Concordia (Mich.) moves up one spot to No. 3 with 320 points due to a perfect 10-0 start with wins over then-No. 13 Huntington (Ind.) and then-No. 24 Grace (Ind.). No. 4 College of the Ozarks (Mo.) moves back one spot with 309 points, while Morningside (Iowa) and Davenport (Mich.) tied for fifth with 292 points each.
No. 9 Bethel (Ind.) is the biggest mover this week after going unranked in the first two polls of the season. The Pilots last appeared in the Top 25 on Jan. 10 last season. Bethel cracks the top 10 on the strength of a 10-1 record and six-straight wins. Morningside fell to 13th last week after being tabbed No. 2 in the preseason poll, but is back in the top five after defeating then-No. 6 Grand View (Iowa), 81-70, on Nov. 30. No. 11 Mount Mercy (Iowa) also makes a huge leap one week after falling out of the poll. The Mustangs also topped Grand View this past week, 80-63.
No. 18 Union, No. T-20 Indiana Southeast, No. T-20 Northwestern (Iowa), No. 22 Cornerstone (Mich.), No. 23 Marian (Ind.), No. 24 Warner Pacific (Ore.) and No. 25 Southwestern (Kan.) join Bethel and Mount Mercy as schools who are new to the poll this week. The nine teams that fell from the Top 25 are: Tennessee Wesleyan, Huntington (Ind.), St. Ambrose (Iowa), Corban (Ore.), Saint Francis (Ind.), Indiana Tech, St. Thomas (Fla.), Sterling (Kan.) and Daemen (N.Y.). No. 14 Grand View experienced the biggest drop within the rankings, free-falling from No. 6 a week ago.
The Great Plains Athletic Conference placed the most teams of any league in the poll with five: Briar Cliff, Morningside, No. 7 Concordia (Neb.), No. 8 Hastings (Neb.) and No. 20 Northwestern (Iowa). The MCCC was second with four ranked teams: Indiana Wesleyan, Bethel, No. 17 Grace and No. 23 Marian (Ind.).
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and independents. The second regular-season poll will be announced on Dec. 12.
Union is 7-2 overall and 2-0 in the AAC. The Lady Bulldogs return to action Friday when it plays Tennessee Temple at 8 p.m. in their own classic.