The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops: My Week 7 Top 25 ballot…with context

by Riley Zayas

I’m back with another Top 25 ballot breakdown as I look back on the week that was in D3 women’s hoops and prepare to file my ballot for This wasn’t easy, as usual, because of the sheer number of quality teams right now in the division. But here we go… (as always, feel free to comment below or email me at with questions/comments/feedback/thoughts).

  1. Trinity (TX): This is the only easy one of this ballot…Trinity took care of business on the road at Texas Lutheran and Southwestern this past week, putting 125 on the board in Georgetown on Saturday. They’ve been my #1 for the last three ballots and I expect the rest of the panel will join me (and the four others who had them #1 last week) in putting the Tigers in the top spot after NYU’s two losses in UAA play.
  2. Christopher Newport: CNU goes from third to second, and looked incredibly sharp in a 20-point win over a Mary Washington team that is 15-3 and has been receiving votes. The Captains had a close call at Washington & Lee two weeks ago, but by and large have a notable resume that puts them as one of the nation’s top squads. I’ve been impressed by the cohesion of this squad, and at 16-0, CNU has a very good shot to finish the regular season undefeated.
  3. Transylvania: With UT-Dallas now on the rise, having beaten ETBU, it is likely Transy will get at least one regionally-ranked win this season. The defense continues to be, in my opinion, the nation’s best, especially in terms of discipline. The Pioneers won at Mount St. Joseph and Anderson in HCAC action this past week, improving to 16-0.
  4. Scranton: Scranton cracks the top five after being #6 for a few weeks on my ballot. Hope’s loss certainly helped the Lady Royals move up, but the 20-point win over RV Elizabethtown on the 13th gave me a lot of confidence in Scranton’s ability to win in the big moments. Scranton has a nice resume, with a neutral court win over Wartburg, a road win at Catholic, and home victories over Ithaca, Tufts, and ETown.
  5. Smith: In all honesty, if NYU had managed to beat WashU, this is where the Violets would have ended up. But losing twice in the same week, and especially to a team not even in Massey’s Top 30 (WashU) makes it tough for me to drop them just three spots. But Smith, in its own right, has found its way back to the top of my ballot. They were a “dubious” pick for me early on…but now seeing some of the teams they beat, that weren’t considered great wins at the time but are now, really makes them rise in my rankings. Beating Trinity (CT) and Bowdoin back-to-back, not to mention the 16-point road win over a very competitive Hamilton team to lead off this past week, are all really solid wins. Going to have to take a “wait-and-see” approach to Smith in terms of leaving them at #5 for weeks to come, but I’m liking the product that’s being put on the floor.
  6. NYU: The Violets really struggled after entering the week undefeated and ranked No. 1. First came the loss at Chicago early in the week, in which the 14-point margin was the most surprising aspect, then Sunday’s defeat at WashU despite holding a nine-point halftime lead. The weird thing was there were no injuries (at least not any that were apparent). NYU had its regular starting five on the floor for both games. But for the second straight game, there was very little rebounding presence, and WashU did a great job defensively in the second half, winning 57-56.
  7. DeSales: DeSales slides up two spots, now 15-0. Another team I could see going the entire year undefeated, DeSales seems unfazed as MAC play progresses. An 81-37 win over Arcadia is the most recent, 40+ point win for the Bulldogs.
  8. Baldwin Wallace: Because of Hope and NYU’s losses, BW’s loss to an Ohio Northern team I have ranked in the Top 20 doesn’t end up affecting the Yellow Jackets’ ranking at all. I had BW at #8 last week and that’s where they will stay (though I still feel this is a little high). At 14-1, wins over Trine and Hamilton stand out, and while BW has looked a little shaky as of late, I can’t see a good reason to punish a loss that came by two points to a Top 25 team on the road.
  9. Trine: I have two MIAA rivals in consecutive order, as Hope follows at #10. First time this year that I’ve done that on my ballot, I believe. The Thunder were dominant in MIAA play this past week, including a Saturday performance that saw winless Kalamazoo manage just five first-half points and a total of 16 in an 84-16 win for Trine. At 13-3, Trine’s best win remains over Hope, as it came on the road, and saw the Thunder win by double digits.
  10. Hope: The Flying Dutch took their second loss of the year against Albion on Saturday in a pretty shocking result. Albion was clearly the better team on this particular day, winning 69-53. But with that said, I think Hope’s experience level on the roster and overall resume (wins over Calvin, Carnegie Mellon, UW-Eau Claire, losses to Trine, Albion) is enough to keep them in the Top 10 for the time being.
  11. UW-Eau Claire: UWEC doesn’t move in my ballot, though I expect the Blugolds will rise a bit in the overall poll, as they entered this past week ranked #14. At 14-3, UWEC has had its hiccups, losing to Hope, Loras, and UW-Whitewater. But not one of those would be classified as a “bad loss”. Losses are going to happen. It’s a long season. Wins over Trine, UW-Oshkosh and UW-La Crosse stick out to me.
  12. Chicago: The Maroons make a jump of three spots for me, after taking down the nation’s #1 in NYU on Wednesday. It was a very strong effort, especially on the boards, from Chicago, who won 71-57. At 13-1, and playing in a strong UAA, it won’t surprise me if Chicago breaks into the Top 10 at some point down the road.
  13. UW-Whitewater: Whitewater slides back a few spots for me after losing a tight game at UW-Stout on Saturday, but overall, I still really like the Warhawks’ Final Four chances. With nine Massey Top 100 wins, Whitewater belongs in the national conversation. Felt that UWEC and Chicago were more deserving based on what I’ve visually seen, but I still have a lot of confidence in what Whitewater can do come tournament time.
  14. Rochester: Led by Katie Titus, Rochester was dominant in UAA play against Case Western Reserve and Carnegie Mellon in the week that was, winning both by 20+ point margins. A 13-1 team, I’m still waiting to see Rochester face the UAA’s best (NYU, Chicago, WashU), but overall, I’m fairly convinced this is a team that can make a run past the first weekend in March.
  15. Babson: Babson, also a one-loss team, is looking good atop the NEWMAC right now. In the Beavers’ lone game of the week, they took down RV Springfield 75-55 in a convincing victory. Since the loss to Loras just before Christmas, Babson has won its last five. They face Hamilton today in non-conference action in what should be a competitive matchup.
  16. Ohio Northern: ONU took down Baldwin Wallace in a massive victory (not their first) in OAC play early in the week, edging the Yellow Jackets 53-51. 53 is ONU’s lucky number apparently, as the Polar Bears also scored 53 in the upset of Trine back on Nov. 26. As long as ONU keeps winning, it’s very possible the Polar Bears end up winning the OAC regular season title. Kristen Luersman is a fun player to watch, and a matchup issue for opposing post players. She leads the league in rebounds and is second in FG percentage.
  17. Trinity (CT): The last remaining undefeated team in NESCAC play, Trinity has been consistent all season, in my opinion. The only loss in the Bantams’ 15 games came to Smith by three points in overtime, and though a 56-51 win in their only game of the week against Connecticut College wasn’t a significant margin, I continue to be impressed by the defensive effort, allowing just 49.3 points per game.
  18. Puget Sound: The Loggers played a key NWC game that probably didn’t get enough attention against RV Pacific on Friday, winning on the road, 63-51. I can’t say it enough. No matter how highly ranked you are, it’s so hard to win on the road in conference play. PS is deep and has clearly found a rhythm since the loss to Wheaton back in November.
  19. Hardin-Simmons: I got the chance to see HSU up close in Belton in Thursday’s Top 25 matchup against Mary Hardin-Baylor. The Cowgirls showed an ability to adapt, getting to the rim against the UMHB defense, while also maintaining a threat from beyond the three-point arc. Paris Kiser has been an impact transfer, coming from UT-Dallas, and runs the offense so well. This is the team to beat in the ASC right now. Head coach Kendra Whitehead has her squad playing with an enormous amount of poise and confidence.
  20. Loras: The Duhawks’ loss to Luther a week ago doesn’t look all that good, as all three of their losses have come against teams who aren’t ranked above No. 50 by Massey. But the quality of wins Loras has accumulated is outstanding; UW-Eau Claire, Babson, Calvin, UW-Stevens Point, are the top four right now. They took care of business against Dubuque and Neb. Wesleyan this past week, winning by sizable margins in each, warranting a two-spot jump.
  21. UW-Oshkosh: The Titans struggled in the first half of Wednesday’s matchup at UW-Whitewater, but came back to cut the margin somewhat close in the second half, falling by just 10, 66-56. The win I really liked was the 61-53 victory over UW-La Crosse on Saturday at home. UWO might be young, but hung in well against the WIAC’s top defense (statistically speaking). UWL had been very good in taking away scoring opportunities, with a strong post group, but UWO scored 12 more points than the average of UWL’s previous opponents and limited the rebounding margin to +8 in favor of UWL. I thought it was a complete performance from the Titans on both ends of the floor, and they stay comfortably in my Top 25.
  22. Millikin: I said it for a while and it is starting to become evident: with Bailey Coffman on the floor, this is a different Millikin team. They haven’t lost since Nov. 19 (a credit to the maturity and cohesion of this group) and took down a quality Illinois Wesleyan (#41 in Massey) team on the 11th. It seems likely that with the strong SOS and recent play, Millikin will be hosting on the first weekend of the tournament if they keep up the pace.
  23. UW-Stout: Stout surprised many with its exceptional home win over UW-Whitewater on Saturday, and the depth of this squad, composed of several sophomores including do-it-all guard Raegan Sorensen, continues to be evident. I had debated on ranking Stout last week in my Top 25, but ultimately put them at #26. Despite a tough loss to UW-La Crosse earlier in the week, the Whitewater win more than convinced me of Stout’s national standing. The Blue Devils will need to remain consistent in the WIAC, but as of now, I can only see their stock rising, with six Massey Top 100 wins, and several more opportunities to follow.
  24. UW-La Crosse: Yep, back-to-back WIAC teams here at the bottom of my ballot. And yes, UWL did beat Stout on Wednesday. But the Eagles also fell to UW-Oshkosh on Saturday. Sometimes you just can’t figure the WIAC out. I ultimately moved them up one spot after the Stout win, and at 14-3, the record speaks for itself. Outside of the Stout win. La Crosse also has wins over UWSP (#42 Massey) and Carroll (#32 Massey). As I said before, the defense of this team is exceptional in most instances, and in almost every matchup, they’ll be winning the battle on the boards.
  25. Gustavus Adolphus: The Gusties’ resume is tough to figure out. They have some very quality wins (UW-Stout, St. Benedict to name two), and both losses (Bethel and Concordia-Moorhead) actually look pretty good when compared with other teams in that 20-30 range. Ultimately, watching them live, the consistent level of play on both ends of the court impresses me most. They are the MIAC’s top offense and top defense, shooting a league-best 46.1% from the field. Rather than relying on one or two scorers, the ball distribution is excellent, and often spreads out the opposing defense.
  26. Calvin: The Knights were 24th in last week’s poll, and are at the top of my watch list of teams I’m not currently voting for. Gabby Timmer is a tough matchup for any opponent, but Calvin has plenty of other reliable scoring options as well, in Leah Harris (12.7 PPG) and Sydney Cleary (10.9 PPG), just to name two. They’ll get another shot at Hope and Trine on Feb. 8 and 11, respectively. Those will be pivotal contests, because the remainder of Calvin’s Pool C resume will be largely dependent on those two results.
  27. Mary Hardin-Baylor: Yes, for the first time this year, I do not have UMHB on my ballot. As many of you know, I cover UMHB athletics as the managing editor of True To The Cru, and while I do not approach my ballot with bias, it is still tough to leave the Cru out of the Top 25. But the simple fact is that there were teams with better resumes this week, bumping the Crusaders down to #27. They have all the parts and pieces to be a talented team on the national scale, but it’s a matter of putting those pieces together that I am looking to see from UMHB. They have played seven Massey Top 100 opponents this year, and gone 3-4 in those games (UPDATED numbers…apologies for the mistake in the first draft). They’ve been battle tested, and watching them in person so many times, they’re incredibly talented in the backcourt and deep at every position. ASC contender for sure…UMHB still has home games with Massey Top 100 teams in UT-Dallas and ETBU, as well as a road trip to HSU.
  28. Ithaca: With the long break in December, Ithaca went unnoticed as the Bombers resumed play in early January. At 12-2, with wins over Hamilton, Catholic and Cortland St., Ithaca is undoubtedly Region 3’s top team. Will continue to be high on my watch list this coming week.
  29. WashU: The Bears took some losses early on that makes it hard for me to vote them in over another team that has a stronger overall resume, but there isn’t another team in the nation who has done what WashU has in the last two weeks. On Jan. 7, the Bears shocked Chicago, then #10, and yesterday, they roared back from a halftime deficit to beat #1 NYU, 57-56. They head on the road this week to Case Western Reserve and Carnegie Mellon. I’ll be interested to see how they fare away from St. Louis, where they are 2-1 this season.
  30. Emory: Playing in the UAA, there are quite a few opportunities for high-quality (and RRO) wins. Emory is 10-2 right now, 2-1 in the UAA, and battles NYU and Brandeis later this week, followed by Chicago and WashU the next. These will be two huge weeks for Emory, who is #27 by Massey.

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