Originally created 03/18/03

UConn barely clings to No. 1



Connecticut barely held on at No. 1 after its winning streak ended at 70.

UConn edged Duke by four points Monday in the final AP women's college basketball poll of the season, the smallest margin between the top two teams since a media panel began voting in 1994.

The closes previous finish was Purdue's 38-point edge over Tennessee to close the 1998-99 season.

Connecticut had been a unanimous No. 1 for six straight weeks, but it lost to Villanova 52-48 in the Big East tournament final. It was the Huskies' first defeat since the 2001 Final Four.

Connecticut (31-1) received 21 of 44 first-place votes and had 1,074 points. Duke (31-1) had 19 first-place votes and 1,070 points. The four other first-place votes went to No. 3 LSU, which had 1,018 points.

Connecticut and Duke were the only teams ranked No. 1 this season. The Huskies replaced the Blue Devils atop the poll Feb. 3, two days after beating Duke 77-65 in Durham.

This is the fourth straight year and record sixth time overall that Connecticut has finished No. 1 in the poll.

Tennessee and Louisiana Tech have done it five times, while Texas is the only other school with four straight No. 1 finishes (1984-87).

On the strength of its big victory over UConn, Villanova jumped seven places to 11th, matching the Wildcats' highest ranking ever. They also were 11th in the final poll of the 1981-82 season.

George Washington, which was ranked earlier this season, returned to the poll in a tie for 25th and was the only newcomer.

There were few other changes because many teams were idle last week.

The top six stayed the same, with Tennessee at No. 4, followed by Texas and Louisiana Tech.

The first four teams in the poll are the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament - Connecticut in the East, Duke in the Midwest, LSU in the West and Tennessee in the Mideast.

No. 7 Texas Tech and No. 8 Kansas State traded places, Stanford stayed at No. 9, and Purdue held at No. 10.

After Villanova at No. 11, it was North Carolina, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Penn State, South Carolina, Minnesota, UC Santa Barbara, Georgia and Ohio State.

Wisconsin-Green Bay, Arizona, Rutgers, and Arkansas were next, with Boston College and George Washington rounding out the poll in a tie for 25th.

George Washington (24-6), the Atlantic 10 tournament champion, was ranked in the first six polls of the season, topping out at No. 21. The Colonials lost four straight between Dec. 20 and Jan. 2, but have won 20 of their last 21. Their only loss in that stretch was at Xavier, 94-92 in four overtimes.

Connecticut and Duke were among 16 teams that were ranked all season. The others were LSU, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana Tech, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Stanford, Purdue, North Carolina, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Penn State, Minnesota and Arkansas.

Teams in the preseason poll that did not make the final Top 25 were Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Cincinnati, Iowa State and Colorado State.

Thirty-six teams were ranked during the season, matching the second-fewest since the poll was expanded to 25 teams in the 1989-90 season. The fewest was 34 in 1996-97.



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