NEW YORK (AP) — Dawn Staley and South Carolina are No. 1 in the final Associated Press women’s basketball poll for the first time in school history.
The Gamecocks received 26 first-place votes from the national media panel in voting released Tuesday. No. 2 Oregon garnered the other four votes. Baylor, Maryland and UConn rounded out the first five.
“Our season ended and we’re No. 1,” said Staley, in her 12th year at South Carolina. “I don’t think it’s up for discussion who No. 1 is.”
Louisville, Stanford, N.C. State, Mississippi State and UCLA rounded out the first 10 teams, which were unchanged from the previous poll.
Before this season, South Carolina had never finished the season higher than No. 3.
The Gamecocks topped the Top 25 the final 10 weeks of a season cut short before the NCAA Tournament by concerns about spreading the coronavirus pandemic. The AP has always released its final poll of the season before the start of the tournament that settles the national championship.
Staley said she wasn’t sure if the Gamecocks might recognize this achievement next year with a banner or something else since there was no tournament.
“I want to highlight our year. Only fitting for our seniors, only fitting for our team we put together,” she said. “Fitting to recognize what was accomplished this year for us.”
The Pac-12 has been the top conference in the poll all season and finished with three teams in the first 10 and six in the Top 25.
“I feel like we have been doing that for a while now. I think back to four years ago, I think the conference statistically might have been a little stronger throughout that year, 2017,” said Oregon State coach Scott Rueck, whose team finished No. 14. “It is as good — it is excellent right now, don’t get me wrong. 2017 was crazy..”
HOLD THAT TIGER
Princeton finished the season ranked No. 22. It’s the third time the Tigers were in the final poll, joining the 2012 and 2015 teams. The 2015 squad — whcih was undefeated until an NCAA Tournament loss to Maryland — was 13th in the final poll.