Behind a pair of blowout victories over Life (Ga.) and Cumberlands (Ky.), which followed a victory over No. 3 ranked Campbellsville (Ky.) the week prior, the Shawnee State women’s basketball program moved up to the No. 2 spot in the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll released on Tuesday afternoon.
The Bears received 212 total votes, jumping Campbellsville and Vanguard (Calif.) to claim the number two spot. Shawnee State was buoyed by its 73-63 win over the third-ranked Tigers on Jan. 20. The No. 2 ranking is the highest Shawnee State has achieved since the preseason poll of the 2012-13 season.
Elsewhere around the Mid-South Conference, Campbellsville, as mentioned, held steady at No. 3 overall. The Tigers remained in the top five due to defeating Lindsey Wilson, who dropped from No. 8 to No. 9 in the poll. Cumberland (Tenn.) is receiving votes again after having received none in the poll on Jan. 16.
Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) remains No. 1 overall for the second consecutive poll by seven points over the Bears. The top five is rounded out by Oklahoma City and MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.). Wayland Baptist (Texas) and Westmont (Calif.) are now tied for sixth overall, while Vanguard, who was No. 2 in the last poll, fell to eighth. Lindsey Wilson, Benedictine (Kan.) and Columbia (Mo.) round out the top 10. Westmont was the biggest climber in the poll, moving from 12th to sixth, while Vanguard’s drop also signified the biggest fall in the poll. Montana Western is the only new team in the rankings. They replaced fellow Frontier Conference member Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), who was the only team to drop out of the poll.
Overall, the American Midwest Conference (AMC), Frontier Conference and Golden State Athletic Conference (G-SAC) each tied for the most top 25 members with four each. The Mid-South and the Heart of America Athletic Conference each had three teams mentioned. The Mid-South contributed the most top 10 members of any league, with all three ranked MSC schools listed in the top 10 this week. The Sooner Conference, Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) and Red River Conference (RRC) each had two schools mentioned, while Dillard (La.) was the lone member of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference in the top 25 this week.
Through its first 23 games, Shawnee State currently sits in the top-10 of 13 different rankings, and are second in scoring margin (27.7 points), field goal percentage (48.1), and scoring offense (1902). The Bears are also fifth in defensive field goal percentage (33 percent) and sixth in defensive three-point field goal percentage (23.9), offensive three-point field goal percentage (37.4), and assists (372).
The Shawnee State women’s basketball program will test their new No. 2 ranking on Thursday night at home when they take on Pikeville (Ky.). Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.