Originally created 11/22/05

Duke increases lead in AP women's poll



Two convincing victories made the Duke women an even stronger choice at No. 1.

Duke increased its lead over Tennessee in The Associated Press women's basketball poll Monday, and New Mexico appeared in the Top 25 for just the third time after handing Texas a rare loss at home.

New Mexico (3-1) moved in at No. 25. North Carolina State, which had been 23rd, dropped out.

Duke opened the season with a 93-67 victory at Penn State, then routed Old Dominion 93-56, also on the road. Coach Gail Goestenkors' team shot a combined 55 against the two tradition-rich teams and held them to 32.5 percent shooting.

The Blue Devils received 23 of 45 first-place votes from a national media panel and had 1,101 points. Tennessee, which beat Stetson 83-33 in its only game, had 18 first-place votes and 1,082 points.

In the preseason poll, Tennessee had a 23-17 edge in first place votes and trailed Duke by only five points.

John Riehl of The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was among the voters who changed and put Duke No. 1 this time instead of Tennessee.

"I had them so close in my mind, but Duke beat Old Dominion by 37 and they beat Penn State by 26. Those two wins really jumped out at me," Riehl said. "Seeing what they did in those two games really caused me to take notice."

LSU (1-0) held at No. 3 and received three first-place votes and Ohio State, which opened Monday night against Eastern Kentucky, remained fourth. Baylor (3-0) climbed one spot to fifth and received the remaining first-place vote.

Rutgers, which doesn't play until Friday, slipped one spot to sixth and North Carolina was unchanged at seventh. No. 8 Connecticut and No. 9 Michigan State each moved up one place and Maryland jumped four places to 10th, the Terrapins' first appearance in the top 10 since the week of Feb. 9, 1993.

Connecticut is off to a good start in trying to bounce back from what the Huskies considered a subpar 25-8 season. They won the preseason WNIT for the third time, defeating No. 22 Oklahoma 82-62 in the championship game. UConn won its four games in the tournament, all at home, by an average of 26 points.

Georgia dropped three places to 11th after a loss to Baylor and a one-point win over Santa Clara. Minnesota was 12th and Notre Dame 13th, followed by Texas Tech, Stanford, Arizona State, DePaul, Texas, Purdue and Vanderbilt.

Temple, Oklahoma, Utah, Southern California and New Mexico held the final five places.

Arizona State's ranking at No. 16 was the highest for the Sun Devils since they were 16th on Nov. 18, 1983. Their three victories this season include a 69-60 win over Vanderbilt.

New Mexico's 76-68 victory at then-No. 12 Texas on Friday was just the second loss for the Longhorns in their last 46 home games. The Lobos' big win came only two days after they lost to Oklahoma at home in the WNIT semifinals.

"I attribute that to our players' attitudes," New Mexico coach Don Flanagan said. "Right after the Oklahoma game they felt that they didn't play their best, so they came out on Thursday and had an excellent practice and then followed that with a great game at Texas."

New Mexico's only other appearance in the poll was last season, when the Lobos were 25th the last week of December and 23rd the first week of January. Then they lost at Minnesota by 40 and dropped out.

A 54-52 loss at Saint Joseph's knocked North Carolina State out of the Top 25.