S. Carolina stays at No. 1 for women

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By DOUG FEINBERG

South Carolina re­tained its firm grip on the top spot in The As­so­ci­ated Press women’s col­lege basketball poll. The Game­cocks re­ceived 26 first-place votes from a 30-mem­ber me­dia panel Mon­day af­ter rout­ing Mis­sis­sippi in record fash­ion and beat­ing then-No. 22 Ten­nessee. Bay­lor re­mained No. 2, re­ceiv­ing three first­place votes. Ore­gon, UConn and Louisville rounded out the first five teams in the poll.

NEW YORK — South Carolina re­tained its firm grip on the top spot in The As­so­ci­ated Press women’s col­lege basketball poll.

The Game­cocks re­ceived 26 first-place votes from a 30-mem­ber me­dia panel Mon­day af­ter rout­ing Mis­sis­sippi in record fash­ion and beat­ing then-No. 22 Ten­nessee. Bay­lor re­mained No. 2, re­ceiv­ing three first-place votes. Ore­gon, UConn and Louisville rounded out the first five teams in the poll. The Car­di­nals got the other first-place vote.

South Carolina held Mis­sis­sippi with­out a point for nearly the first 19 min­utes of the SEC game on Thurs­day. The Rebels fin­ished the half with two points, ty­ing the NCAA record for fu­til­ity.

The last time a Di­vi­sion I team scored as few as two points in a half was Dec. 16, 2016, when West­ern Ken­tucky de­feated Lip­scomb 87-35 af­ter lead­ing 56-2 at half­time.

The Game­cocks visit No. 25 Arkansas on Thurs­day be­fore host­ing UConn on Feb. 10.

The Huskies hosted Ore­gon on Mon­day night.

Stan­ford, North Carolina State, Mis­sis­sippi State, Ore­gon State and UCLA fin­ished off the first 10 teams in the poll. The Bru­ins fell two spots af­ter los­ing at Ari­zona on Fri­day night. The Wild­cats tied for the big­gest climb, mov­ing up four spots along with with Mary­land. Ari­zona’s No. 12 rank­ing is its best since the fi­nal poll of 1998, when the team was ninth.

RIS­ING ZAGS: Gon­zaga keeps win­ning and climb­ing in the poll. The Bull­dogs are 11th this week — their best rank­ing ever. Gon­zaga is 22-1 on the sea­son, with the de­feat com­ing in over­time at Stan­ford. The Zags visit Pa­cific and Saint Mary’s this week.

TAK­ING A BREAK: Both UConn and Louisville stepped away from conference play to have ex­hi­bi­tions against mem­bers of the U.S. na­tional team last week. The Huskies played the U.S. team even for the first three quar­ters and had a brief lead in the fourth be­fore fall­ing by 15. The Car­di­nals lost by 43 af­ter lead­ing 21-17 at the end of the first quar­ter. Both games served as home­com­ings for many of the U.S. play­ers. Sue Bird, Bre­anna Stewart, Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles and Katie Lou Sa­muel­son all got to play against their for­mer team and UConn coach Geno Auriemma. Angel McCoughtry had a chance to play at Louisville one more time.

South Carolina, Bay­lor head­line top seeds in NCAA re­veal

STORRS, Conn. — South Carolina, Bay­lor, Louisville and Ore­gon would be the four top seeds if the women’s NCAA Women’s Tour­na­ment be­gan Mon­day.

The NCAA on Mon­day pro­vided its first snap­shot of the top 16 teams in the tour­na­ment field. Those schools would po­ten­tially host the open­ing two rounds of the NCAA Tour­na­ment, which be­gins March 20.

“I will say the com­mit­tee was pretty con­sis­tent on the top four,” said Diane Turn­ham, chair of the women’s basketball com­mit­tee. “One to six could el­e­vate them­selves to dif­fer­ent po­si­tions. South Carolina has one loss in Novem­ber. Bay­lor, Ore­gon and Louisville had a lot of dis­cus­sion. These are tough calls. They could change.”

The Game­cocks would be the No. 1 seed in Greenville, South Carolina. The Lady Bears would be stay­ing close to home in the Dal­las Re­gion. Louisville would head to Fort Wayne, In­di­ana, and be the top seed there. Ore­gon would also be near home, play­ing in Portland.

Join­ing South Carolina would be N.C. State, UCLA and Iowa as the top four seeds in that re­gion. Stan­ford, Gon­zaga and Ari­zona would be in Dal­las with Bay­lor. UConn, Ore­gon State and North­west­ern would be in In­di­ana. Mary­land, Mis­sis­sippi State and DePaul would be in Ore­gon.

That would mean five Pac12 teams would be host­ing the open­ing two rounds.

Turn­ham said there are seven or eight other teams knock­ing on the door to be in the top 16.

“We sched­ule two hours and were well over it,” said Turn­ham, who is in her fourth year on the com­mit­tee. “In­cred­i­ble amount of con­ver­sa­tion and re­view­ing of teams.”

The com­mit­tee will do one more top 16 re­veal on March 2. The bracket will be un­veiled on March 16. The Fi­nal Four is in New Orleans this year with the semi­fi­nals on April 3 and the ti­tle game two days later.

“Our top 16 could look very dif­fer­ent,” Turn­ham said of the next re­veal. “Some teams trend­ing up and down. Some with in­juries. The next re­veal will have a lot more to it.”

LEADER AT THE TOP South Carolina coach Dawn Sta­ley com­mu­ni­cates with play­ers dur­ing the first half against Ten­nessee on Sun­day in Columbia, South Carolina.

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