KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Union continues to make a case for a national tournament bid as it jumped three spots in the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, landing at No. 22, the NAIA announced Monday.
Union (22-7 overall, 13-5 Appalachian Athletic Conference) collected 98 total points, putting it 28 behind No. 21 Southwestern (Kan.) and nine in front of Saint Mary (Neb.).
No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan continues to stave off No. 2 Concordia (Neb.) for the top spot in the NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 Poll. For the third-consecutive week, Indiana Wesleyan gathered a mere four more points than Concordia to remain atop the poll. The Wildcats again collected nine first-place votes and 370 total points despite a scare from the Mid-Central College Conference’s seventh-place team in Taylor (Ind.) on Feb. 15. Indiana Wesleyan wound up with a 62-60 nailbiter of a victory.
The rest of the top five teams remain the same with the flip-flop of the Nos. 4 and 5 teams marking the only change. Concordia, winner of 15-straight games, grabbed five first-place votes and 366 points. No. 3 College of the Ozarks (Mo.), which boasts the nation’s longest active winning streak with 18-consecutive victories, pulled in 350 points. Morningside’s (Iowa) 69-42 loss to then No. 18 Hastings (Neb.) pushed the Mustangs back one slot to No. 5 with 320 points. This allowed Concordia (Mich.) to move up one to No. 4 with 332 points.
No. 14 Ave Maria (Fla.) made the biggest waves in the poll by leaping up five spots. The Lady Gyrenes have improved their position in the Top 25 for the fourth-straight week and have reached their highest ranking in school history. Ave Maria is fresh off a 72-51 The Sun Conference regular-season title clinching victory over then No. 14 St. Thomas (Fla.) on Feb. 18 in the NAIA Game of the Week. That decisive loss pushed St. Thomas back five spots to No. 19, marking the largest drop among ranked teams.
Just one newcomer crashed this week’s poll: No. 25 Eastern Oregon. The Mountaineers, ranked No. 15 two weeks ago prior to dropping out of the poll on Feb. 13, are back in the rankings after three-straight victories by an average margin of 26.7 points per game. Eastern Oregon replaces Grace (Ind.) (No. 24), which suffered a four-point loss to then No. 15 Bethel (Ind.) and a five-point loss to unranked Taylor last week.
Twelve of the 14 Division II women's basketball conferences and independents are represented throughout the Top 25. The Great Plains Athletic Conference, which has led all leagues in Top 25 representation in each poll this season, again placed the most teams of any conference in the rankings with five: Concordia, Morningside, No. 8 Northwestern (Iowa), No. 11 Briar Cliff (Iowa) and No. 17 Hastings. The Cascade Collegiate Conference boasts the second-most ranked squads with three: No. 10 Corban (Ore.), No. 20 College of Idaho and Eastern Oregon.
Union opens AAC Tournament play Wednesday as the No. 2 seed and will play host to No. 7 seed Reinhardt (Ga.) at 7 p.m.