Monday, January 3, 2005
Lady Vols fall to No. 10, UConn to 15th
Virginia Tech's first ACC victory put coach Beth Dunkenberger in the Top 25 for the first time.
While Connecticut lost even more ground and Tennessee hit an eight-year low Monday, Virginia Tech joined The Associated Press women's basketball poll at No. 25 after making its ACC debut with a 77-67 victory over then-No. 17 Maryland.
Dunkenberger is in her first season as Hokies coach after four years at Western Carolina. She stepped into a good situation, inheriting four starters from a 23-8 team after Bonnie Henrickson left for Kansas.
"It's early in the season, we're just starting ACC play, but I feel like we played a tough nonconference schedule to get ready," Dunkenberger said. "I'm sure the kids will be excited to hear the news."
The top three teams remained the same, with No. 1 LSU again receiving all 45 first-place votes from a national media panel. The Lady Tigers (13-0) coasted to one-sided victories over Texas State and Tulane but face a challenge at surging Rutgers on Wednesday.
Rutgers jumped from 24th to 14th after knocking off Top 10 teams Tennessee and Texas. The Scarlet Knights' 51-47 victory at Texas on Sunday ended the Longhorns' 41-game home winning streak, which had been the nation's longest.
Connecticut lost at home to Michigan State between easy wins over George Mason and St. John's and dropped four places to 15th -- the lowest ranking for the five-time national champions since they were 15th on Dec. 7, 1993.
Last week, UConn (7-3) fell out of the Top 10 for the first time in nearly 11 years.
No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 5 North Carolina moved up two spots each. Michigan State (12-1), which has matched the best start in school history, jumped from 10th to sixth.
Texas slipped three places to seventh, and Stanford fell from fifth to eighth after losing at Oregon. Ohio State remained ninth despite losing to Penn State. Tennessee dropped two places to 10th.
Tennessee bounced back from the loss to Rutgers to beat Old Dominion, but that didn't keep the Lady Vols from their lowest ranking since they were 10th in the final poll of the 1996-97 season.
Minnesota was 11th and Texas Tech 12th, followed by Boston College, Rutgers, Connecticut, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Iowa, DePaul and Kansas State.
Maryland, UCLA, New Mexico, Purdue and Virginia Tech held the final five places.
Virginia Tech (10-2), which moved to the ACC from the Big East, has won eight straight since an 87-56 loss at Old Dominion. The winning streak includes a 71-70 victory over Texas Tech.
"We certainly turned practice up another notch and discussed the fact that we didn't want to have another loss like that in any of our careers," Dunkenberger said. "We had some tough competition between Old Dominion and Texas Tech and when we came out for that game, we wanted to make a statement. We responded well."
More tough competition is just ahead. The Hokies play at Duke on Sunday.
"What a way to start, against two Top 25 teams," Dunkenberger said. "It's like, 'Hello, welcome to the ACC.'"
Rutgers' surge has coincided with the return of guard Cappie Pondexter, a third-team All-American last season. She sat out the first eight games for personal reasons and played for the first time against Tennessee.
Arizona State, 21st last week, dropped out after splitting on a road trip, beating Washington State and losing to Washington.