Maryland No. 1; Marquette, Nebraska join Top 25

Monday, December 4th 2006, 3:01 pm
By: News On 6

Coach Terri Mitchell camped out at the Marquette student union before this season, trying to draw attention to her women's basketball team. A six-game winning streak has put the Golden Eagles in the Top 25.

Marquette joined The Associated press poll at No. 24 on Monday, its first appearance since late in the 1999-00 season and just its fourth overall.

Nebraska, which also has won six in a row, made its debut this season at No. 25, while No. 23 New Mexico returned after a two-week absence. BYU, Kentucky and Texas Tech dropped out.

Maryland, North Carolina and Oklahoma remained 1-2-3, but there was some shuffling after that in the top 10 following two games between highly ranked teams _ North Carolina's victory over Tennessee and Connecticut's win over Purdue.

Tennessee slipped from fourth to sixth following its 70-57 loss at Chapel Hill. Purdue's 66-55 loss at Connecticut knocked the Boilermakers down one spot to 10th and Texas A&M fell from 10th to 15th after losing to unranked Rice. A&M's fall came just one week after the Aggies reached the top 10 for the first time.

Mitchell wanted to drum up support for her team after the Golden Eagles' runner-up finish in the WNIT last March, so she spent an October afternoon talking to passers-by on a Milwaukee street corner. She spent that night at the student union, toasting marshmallows around a fire. Mitchell had wanted to sleep in a tent, but she had back surgery Aug. 28 and chose a camper instead.

``We had some momentum after last season and we wanted to keep it going,'' Mitchell said. ``We've had students showing up and they usually don't really start coming out until Big East play. I've been invited to do a lot more things on campus, so it's worked for us. Anything I can do to promote our program.''

The Golden Eagles (7-1) are promoting themselves now by winning. They have victories over Washington, Auburn and Xavier and they beat Rice 78-62 two days after the Owls knocked off Texas A&M.

Marquette's only other appearance in the poll came the weeks of Feb. 14, 21 and 28 in 2000.

``I'm very excited for our program,'' Mitchell said. ``We've got four seniors who really understand what it takes in terms of intensity and energy. Our team is going as our seniors go. They've really stepped up in their leadership. Now we just have to try to keep it going.''

Nebraska (6-1) has come back strong after losing to No. 13 Arizona State in its opener. The Cornhuskers have a win over New Mexico and a victory at Southern California, which was ranked in the first two polls.

It's just the second time Nebraska has made the Top 25 under coach Connie Yori. The first was the week of Jan. 26, 2004, when the Cornhuskers were 25th. They made numerous appearances in the poll under coaches Paul Sanderford and Angela Beck.

New Mexico (5-2) was 23rd before dropping out of the poll Nov. 20. The Lobos have reeled off three victories since by margins of 21, 39 and 34 points.

Maryland (9-0) received 46 of 50 first-place votes from a national media panel and had 1,246 points to lead the poll for the fifth straight week. Terrapins coach Brenda Frese will have a homecoming Wednesday night when her team plays at Northern Iowa, which is about an hour from her hometown of Cedar Rapids.

North Carolina (8-0) got its first major victory of the season by beating Tennessee on Sunday night and received one first-place vote. The three others went to No. 3 Oklahoma (6-0). North Carolina had 1,190 points _ 27 more than the Sooners.

Duke climbed one spot to fourth and was followed by Ohio State, Tennessee, Connecticut, Georgia, LSU and Purdue. LSU (9-1), which is holding opponents to 28.4 percent shooting and 42 points a game, moved up two places from 11th.

The next four teams _ Vanderbilt, Baylor, Arizona State and Stanford _ each climbed one spot. Then it was Texas A&M, California, Louisville, DePaul, Rutgers and Michigan State. George Washington was 21st and Texas 22nd, followed by the three newcomers.

BYU (4-3), which had been 23rd, beat Harvard and lost to Hartford on an East Coast trip. The Cougars ended a run of 13 consecutive appearances in the poll. Kentucky (4-3) dropped out after beating Detroit and losing to Louisville. The Wildcats had been 24th.

Texas Tech returned to the poll at No. 25 just last week after being out since early last season. The Lady Raiders started the week with a victory over Tulane, then lost at Fresno State and Stanford.