Huskies retake No. 1 ranking

Updated: February 24, 2004, 12:05 AM ET
Associated Press

Look who's back at No. 1.

Connecticut replaced Texas atop The Associated Press women's basketball poll Monday, regaining the position it held the first eight weeks of the season.

Texas was No. 1 for two weeks before losing to Texas Tech 62-49 on Sunday. The Longhorns fell to No. 5.

This was the fourth time in the last eight weeks the No. 1 position has changed. Duke and Tennessee also have been No. 1 during the stretch.

Two newcomers joined the poll this week -- No. 24 Vanderbilt and No. 25 Ohio State. Boston College and Utah dropped out.

Connecticut (22-2) tumbled from first to fourth after losing at home to Duke on Jan. 3, then fell another spot after losing at Notre Dame 10 days later.

But the Huskies, who have led the AP poll more often than any other team, have won 11 straight since -- their last eight by an average of 28 points.

"Anytime you lose early in the season and get knocked down a few notches, it always feels good to work your way back," UConn senior Maria Conlon said.

"We hit rock bottom there and we bounced back. That says a lot about the character of our team."

Connecticut's recent surge of dominating play, which included a 14-point win at Tennessee, began with a 68-50 victory at Virginia Tech. Three days earlier, the Huskies had been forced to scramble at the end to beat Seton Hall 71-63.

"We were winning games, but not like we usually did," Conlon said. "We just weren't playing at the level we usually play at or want to play at. The Virginia Tech game ... if we didn't play the way we did that night, it would have been another Notre Dame or a close game.

"That kind of redefined the rest of our season. It gave us the momentum to come out and play the way we've been playing."

Connecticut, making its 94th appearance at No. 1, beat Pittsburgh 97-42 and then-No. 23 Boston College 81-60 last week. The Huskies received 45 of 47 first-place votes from a national media panel and had 1,173 points -- 61 more than Tennessee.

Tennessee (23-2), No. 3 Duke (22-3) and No. 4 Purdue (23-2) each moved up one place. Purdue, winners of 14 straight, received the two other first-place votes.

Penn State climbed one spot to sixth and was followed by Louisiana Tech, Texas Tech, Kansas State and Stanford.

North Carolina advanced five places to 11th, Minnesota slipped one spot to 12th after losing at Iowa and TCU went from 17th to 13th. Then it was Colorado, LSU and Baylor, followed by Houston, Auburn, Georgia and DePaul.

Miami, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt and Ohio State held the final five places.

North Carolina made the biggest jump within the poll and DePaul had the biggest drop, falling from 12th to 20th after losing at TCU and Houston.

Vanderbilt (18-7) has been ranked twice before this season, at No. 24 for one week each time. The Commodores returned to the poll after breaking a four-game losing streak with victories over two ranked teams, LSU and Auburn.

Ohio State (17-8) has recovered from a slump that knocked the Buckeyes out of the Top 25 on Jan. 12. They lost six of eight in one stretch, but now have won four straight and seven of eight.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press