[NAIA] – As has been the case in all four polls this season, Lubbock Christian (Texas) claims the No. 1 ranking in the third regular season edition of the 2012-13 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Lady Chaparrals, who are making their fourth all-time No. 1 ranking since 1999-2000, received 10 first-place votes and 281 total points en route to the top billing.
Lubbock Christian boasts a 25.9-point average margin of victory and an NAIA-best 16-0 record this season. The Lady Chaparrals only contest decided by 10-points-or-less was a 75-67 double overtime win against NCAA Division II then-No. 23 Northeastern State (Okla.) on Nov. 10. Most recently, Lubbock Christian defeated St. Gregory’s (Okla.), 75-61, on Jan. 5 to improve to 3-0 in the Sooner Athletic Conference.
Possibly the Lady Chaparrals toughest test comes on Thursday when they host defending national champion and sixth-ranked Oklahoma City. These two teams last met in the semifinals of the 2012 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship. Oklahoma City claimed an 85-56 win in that contest.
Fellow unbeaten Vanguard (Calif.) (9-0) received one first-place vote and 272 points to jump one spot to No. 2 – its highest ranking since Oct. 26, 2009. The Lions open Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) action on Tuesday against San Diego Christian (Calif.). Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) fell one spot to No. 3 with 263 points following a 74-71 overtime loss against then-NAIA Division II No. 4 College of the Ozarks (Mo.) on Jan. 2. No. 4 Westminster (Utah), who enters the week riding a six-game win streak, and No. 5 Lee (Tenn.) round out the top five with 254 and 241 points, respectively.
Central Methodist (Mo.) led 11 teams that posted positive movements with an eight spot surge from No. 25 to No. 17. The Eagles have continued their winning ways since first joining the poll in the previous edition, extending their win streak to six games with a pair of Heart of America Athletic Conference victories against Graceland (Iowa), 73-41, on Jan. 3 and Avila (Mo.), 69-53, on Jan. 5.
The other notable positive improvement came from The Master’s (Calif.), who jumped five spots from No. 13 to No. 8. The Mustangs join Lubbock Christian and Vanguard as the only remaining unbeaten teams at 13-0, including a 96-62 thrashing of Simpson (Calif.) their last time out on Jan. 5. The Master’s puts its record on the line on Tuesday when it opens GSAC play against Hope International (Calif.).
No. 12 Westmont (Calif.) and No. 25 LSU Shreveport (La.) each dropped eight positions to suffer the largest drop amongst the Top 25. Twelfth is the first non-top 10 rating for Westmont since the 2011-12 preseason poll on Oct. 24, 2011.
No. 20 Wiley (Texas) is this edition’s only newcomer. The Wildcats boast a 13-1 record, including victories against LSU Shreveport, 78-75, on Dec. 15 and then-No. 19 Our Lady of the Lake (Texas), 90-87, on Jan. 5. Wiley was last ranked on March 5, 2008.
Ten of the 11 Division I women’s basketball conferences and unaffiliated groups are represented throughout the Top 25, led by four squads from the Mid-South Conference: No. 7 Cumberland (Tenn.), No. 10 Campbellsville (Ky.), No. 13 Shawnee State (Ohio) and No. 23 Georgetown (Ky.)
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and unaffiliated group. The fourth regular-season Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll will be announced on Jan. 15.