Originally created 02/12/02

Notre Dame joins women's poll; UConn still No. 1

Defending national champion Notre Dame moved into the AP women's basketball poll Monday while the top nine teams remained identical with Connecticut on top.

Notre Dame has regrouped with a young team after a 2-4 start and joined the poll for the first time since late November at No. 23. The Irish (15-7) got in after a 60-44 victory over Boston College, knocking the Eagles from 16th to 21st.

"I don't think there's too many teams in the country playing as well as we are right now," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.

Connecticut (26-0) has been No. 1 all season and was a unanimous choice for the sixth straight week, receiving all 44 first-place votes and 1,100 points from a national media panel.

The Huskies beat Seton Hall by 52 points and then-No. 23 Virginia Tech by 35 to increase their average victory margin to 36.3.

They have been No. 1 in 45 of the last 52 polls and 74 times overall, putting them behind only Tennessee (90) and Louisiana Tech (83) in appearances at the top of the poll.

Stanford (24-1) remained second with 1,030 points, Tennessee (20-2) third with 998 and Oklahoma (20-2) fourth with 992. The Sooners were followed by Duke, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Louisiana Tech and South Carolina.

The top nine teams were a combined 17-0 in the past week, including five victories over ranked opponents.

Iowa State, which has won five straight after starting 2-5 in the Big 12, jumped two places to 10th.

Baylor slipped one spot to 11th after losing to Oklahoma and beating then-No. 15 Texas. Kansas State was 12th and Colorado 13th, followed by Florida, Minnesota, Texas Tech, Colorado State, Texas, Old Dominion and North Carolina.

Boston College, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Georgia and Wisconsin held the final five places.

Notre Dame has won five straight and 10 of 12. One of the losses in that stretch was at Connecticut, the other by one point at Villanova. The Irish have won 49 straight at home.

After losing three starters from last year's championship team, McGraw has five freshmen and two sophomores in her 10-player rotation. Freshman Jacqueline Batteast, who moved across town from South Bend Washington High School, leads the Irish in scoring (15.3) and rebounding (8.8).

"The freshman have matured a little bit," McGraw said. "They've had enough games, enough experience now to know what to expect on the road. They're gaining a lot of confidence."

Mississippi State (16-8), which joined the poll at No. 25 last week, dropped out after losing to Vanderbilt and unranked Alabama.

North Carolina made the biggest jump in the poll, going from 24th to 20th after winning three times. Minnesota, which joined the poll only three weeks ago, continued its climb by moving from 18th to 15th.

Boston College's slide of five places was the biggest in the poll. Wisconsin fell four places to 25th after its sixth straight loss, 76-64 to Iowa at home.

Georgia had a tough week, losing 64-59 at South Carolina and 52-50 to Tennessee. The Lady Bulldogs (15-8) fell two places to 24th.


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