KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Despite suffering a pair of losses, Union remained the 19th-ranked team according to the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Monday.
The Lady Bulldogs went 1-2 last week, dropping a three-point game at home and a two-point contest at then-No. 13 Montreat (N.C.). Still, Union garnered enough votes to stay at No. 19. In fact, Union is only 11 points behind No. 16 Grace (Ind.).
Union is 12-4 overall and 3-2 in the Appalachian Athletic Conference.
AAC rival Montreat (12-2 overall, 4-0 AAC) moved up one spot in the poll, taking over at No. 12. Three other conference foes - Bluefield (Va.), Tennessee Wesleyan and Milligan (Tenn.), each received one vote.
Indiana Wesleyan maintained its hold on the top spot by remaining a unanimous No. 1 selection for the fourth-consecutive week in the NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 Poll. The Wildcats received all 14 first-place votes for 374 points despite suffering their first loss of the season to NAIA Division I then-No. 22 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), 65-62, on Dec. 17. Indiana Wesleyan has since won five straight, including a 45-39 victory over then-No. 23 St. Thomas (Fla.) on Dec. 30.
The top five teams held from the Dec. 12 poll, although with shuffling in the Nos. 2 through 4 slots. No. 2 Briar Cliff (Iowa) and No. 3 Davenport (Mich.) are each up one spot with 352 and 351 points, respectively. No. 4 College of the Ozarks (Mo.) slides back two places with 347 points due to losses to Biola (Calif.) on Dec. 29 and Azusa Pacific (Calif.) on Dec. 30. No. 5 Morningside (Iowa) remains in the same slot after collecting 324 points.
Two-time defending champion and preseason No. 1 Northwestern (Iowa) made the biggest leap this week by vaulting 10 spots to No. 10. The Red Raiders lost four of seven early in the season but have rallied, winning their last nine games. That streak includes victories over then-No. 8 Hastings (Neb.), 80-68, on Dec. 17 and over then-No. 7 Concordia (Neb.), 74-67, on Jan. 4. St. Thomas (Fla.) made the next biggest leap among ranked teams, going from No. 23 to No. 17. In their last two outings, wins over Johnson & Wales (Fla.) and Northwood (Fla.), the Bobcats have triumphed by a combined score of 145-88.
Meanwhile, Kansas Wesleyan, formerly No. 12, experienced the biggest drop as it fell from the poll completely after losing three-straight. The only other team to fall from the rankings was Cardinal Stritch (Wis.), who was ranked No. 18 in the Dec. 12 poll.
Kansas Wesleyan and Cardinal Stritch are replaced by No. 20 Friends (Kan.) and No. 22 Southwestern (Kan.). Friends is now 6-0 in Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) play after a 64-60 win over Bethel (Kan.) on Jan. 5 and a 82-64 win over McPherson (Kan.) on Jan. 7. Southwestern sits in second place in the KCAC with its only league loss coming to Friends, 86-76, on Dec. 10.
The Great Plains Athletic Conference placed the most teams of any league in the poll with five: Briar Cliff, Morningside, No. 6 Concordia, Northwestern and No. 13 Hastings. The Mid-Central College Conference was second with four ranked teams: Indiana Wesleyan, No. 8 Bethel (Ind.), No. 16 Grace (Ind.) and No. 23 Marian (Ind.).
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and independents. The next poll will be announced on Jan. 16.
Union returns to action Wednesday at Milligan. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m.