South Carolina remains atop women’s AP Top 25 despite loss

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 06 SEC Women's Tournament - South Carolina Gamecocks v Kentucky Wildcats
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South Carolina remained No. 1 in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll Monday despite suffering its second loss of the season.

The Gamecocks (29-2) fell to Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference Tournament title game Sunday, but stayed atop the poll, edging No. 2 Stanford.

South Carolina received 17 first-place votes from the 30-member national media panel. Stanford, which won the Pac-12 tournament, got 11 first-place ballots. North Carolina State was No. 3 with two top votes. Baylor and Louisville rounded out the top five.

The Gamecocks’ loss snapped an 18-game winning streak for the team, which has gone 11-0 against ranked opponents this season.

“We’ve put ourselves in a really good position. Going into the NCAA Tournament it doesn’t feel good, but we’ve got a lot of feel-goods throughout the season that we’ll draw on,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said after the loss Sunday. “The ultimate goal is still very much in front of us, and we’ll buckle down and try not to be the sad faces that are in the locker room today in the next couple of weeks.”

It’s the second time this season that the Gamecocks still were No. 1 after losing a game.

Kentucky jumped into the poll at No. 16 after also beating then-No. 6 LSU and No. 18 Tennessee in the SEC tournament. Kentucky was ranked for the first 11 weeks of the season before falling out in the middle of January. The Wildcats have now won 10 straight games to get back in the AP Top 25.

UConn was sixth, with Texas, Iowa – jumping four spots from No. 12 – LSU and Iowa State rounding out the top 10. The Big 12 is the only Power Five conference yet to begin its tournament.

Central Florida earned its first ranking ever, coming into the poll at No. 25. UCF has won 10 straight games and is the top seed in the American Athletic Conference tournament that begins Tuesday.

Florida, Georgia and Georgia Tech all fell out of the Top 25.

The final poll of the season will be released next Monday, a day after the NCAA announces this season’s field of 68 teams.

EYE OF THE TIGER

Princeton entered the Top 25 for the first time this season at No. 24 after going undefeated in the Ivy League regular season. The Tigers are 22-4 and have won 15 straight games. Princeton was last ranked for the final five weeks of the 2019-20 season. The Ivy League didn’t play sports last year because of the pandemic.

“We’re very grateful to be playing this year and being back together,” Princeton coach Carla Berube said. “It was over 18 months we hadn’t been all together playing any kind of organized basketball. In November and December we were trying to figure things out and the team came to work every day and worked really, really hard.”

GAME OF THE WEEK

The Big 12 championship game will be played Sunday with Baylor looking to sweep the regular season and tournament crowns again this year.