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Women's Basketball - Tue, Jan. 15, 2013

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For the first time this season a team other than Lubbock Christian (Texas) rests atop the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Poll, as Vanguard (Calif.) claims the top-spot, the national office announced Tuesday. The Lions were the fourth edition's unanimous No. 1 with 281 points and 11 first-place votes. The No. 1 ranking is the 28th for Vanguard since 1999-2000 and first since Feb. 28, 2007.

Vanguard is 1-of-2 remaining unbeaten teams in Division I women's basketball with an 11-0 record, including a 2-0 mark in Golden State Athletic Conference play. Last week, the Lions downed San Diego Christian (Calif.), 56-50, on Jan. 8 and Biola (Calif.), 65-56, on Jan. 12. Junior guard Nicole Ballestero, who is in her first season at Vanguard, is averaging a team-high 20.8 points per game and 4.7 assists per game. She tallied a career-best 31 points in Vanguards previously mentioned victory against Biola.

The Lions face a tough test on Tuesday when they host No. 11 Westmont (Calif.) at 5:30 p.m. PST.

Previously top-ranked Lubbock Christian fell to No. 2 with 271 points. The Lady Chaparrals lost their first game of the season, 79-68, against then-No. 6 Oklahoma City on Jan. 10, but successfully rebounded with an 86-52 win against Mid-America Christian (Okla.) on Jan. 12. Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) held its No. 3 position with 261 points, while Oklahoma City jumped to No. 4 with 250 points. Westminster (Utah) rounds out the top five with 249 points.

Three squads posted an improvement of at-least four spots, led by Georgetown's (Ky.) seven-spot leap from No. 23 to No. 16. The Tigers earned their boost in the poll with an 85-75 victory against then-No. 13 Shawnee State (Ohio). Additionally, the victory improved Georgetown to 3-2 against Top 25 opponents this season. Other notable movers were No. 15 Lyon (Ark.) and No. 17 Benedictine (Kan.), who vaulted four positions this week.

No. 20 Shawnee State fell seven positions for the fourth edition's farthest drop within the poll, while No. 22 Central Methodist's (Mo.) five-spot tumble was second.

No. 25 St. Catharine (Ky.) is the edition's lone newcomer. The Patriots have won six of their last seven, including a string of three-straight victories against ranked opponents from Jan. 3-10. This is the first-ever Top 25 mention for St. Catharine.

LSU Shreveport (La.) (No. 25) fell out of the Top 25.

Ten of the 11 Division I women's basketball conferences and unaffiliated groups are represented throughout the Top 25, led by five squads from the Mid-South Conference: No. 7 Cumberland (Tenn.), No. 9 Campbellsville (Ky.), Georgetown, Shawnee State and St. Catharine.

The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and unaffiliated group. The fifth regular-season Division I Women's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Poll will be announced on Jan. 22. For the complete ratings calendar, click here.

For more information on NAIA Division I Women's Basketball, click here.

Notes: (all information dates back to 1999-2000) The No. 1 ranking is the 28th all-time for Vanguard (Calif.), which ranks third all-time behind former NAIA member Union (Tenn.) (53) and Oklahoma City (45) ... Former NAIA member Southern Nazarene (Okla.) (15) is the only other program with 10-or-more top-ranked appearances ... Since the start of the 1999-2000 season, only No. 4 Oklahoma City and No. 3 Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) have been listed in all 158 polls ... Vanguard has appeared in 124-consecutive polls ... Vanguard, No. 2 Lubbock Christian (Texas), Freed-Hardeman, No. 5 Westminster (Utah) and No. 6 Lee (Tenn.) have been ranked in the top 10 in all five polls this season ... No. 25 St. Catherine is making its first-ever appearance in the Top 25 ... Thirty-three different teams have received Top 25 mention this season, including a Division I-best six programs from the Mid-South Conference ... Union and Vanguard are the only programs to have spent an entire season ranked No. 1 (Union: 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11) (Vanguard: 2005-06, 2006-07)

2012-13 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Poll – No. 4 (Jan. 15)

RANKLAST TIMESCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)2012-13 RECORDTOTAL POINTS
12Vanguard (Calif.) (11)11-0281
21Lubbock Christian (Texas)17-1271
33Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)17-1261
46Oklahoma City12-2250
54Westminster (Utah)16-2249
65Lee (Tenn.)15-1237
77Cumberland (Tenn.)16-1224
88The Master's (Calif.)15-0221
910Campbellsville (Ky.)14-3208
1011MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)16-2197
1112Westmont (Calif.)11-3192
129Xavier (La.)12-3184
T1314Bethel (Tenn.)14-4169
T1315Rogers State (Okla.)14-4169
1519Lyon (Ark.)14-2150
1623Georgetown (Ky.)11-6140
1721Benedictine (Kan.)15-3120
1820Wiley (Texas)15-1118
1916William Woods (Mo.)12-2117
2013Shawnee State (Ohio)14-5116
2118Auburn Montgomery (Ala.)13-4100
2217Central Methodist (Mo.)16-294
2324Our Lady of the Lake (Texas)16-186
2422Faulkner (Ala.)16-482
25RVSt. Catharine (Ky.)11-469

Others receiving votes: Carroll (Mont.) 52; LSU Shreveport (La.) 46; Columbia (Mo.) 32; Cumberlands (Ky.) 25; Coastal Georgia 11; Robert Morris (Ill.) 6; Biola (Calif.) 5; Southern-New Orleans (La.) 3.

*Release courtesy of Alan Grosbach at naia.org