South Carolina climbs to No. 1 in Associated Press Poll for first time

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Dawn Staley and her South Carolina Gamecocks finally have ascended to the top of the poll.

South Carolina took over as the new No. 1 in the Associated Press women’s basketball top 25 on Monday. It’s the first time in school history that the Gamecocks reached the top spot in the poll. Staley is no stranger herself to being ranked No.

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As a player, she helped Virginia reach No. 1. Staley is only the second person in women’s basketball to play and coach a top-ranked team, joining Baylor’s Kim Mulkey.

The Hall of Famer has built South Carolina into one of the powers in the Southeastern Conference over her seven years at the school. Last season, the Gamecocks earned their first conference title and a top seed in the NCAA tournament.

Now, with virtually the entire team back as well as star freshmen, South Carolina has loftier goals in mind.

The Gamecocks received 21 first-place votes Monday, edging Notre Dame for the top spot. South Carolina headed to the Bahamas to play in the Junkanoo Jam over Thanksgiving where it will face Wisconsin in its first game as No. 1 on Thursday.

The Irish garnered 12 first-place ballots and moved up to second. UConn, which held the top spot for 22 consecutive weeks, drops to third after losing in overtime at Stanford last Monday. Tennessee and the Cardinal rounded out the first five.

Texas made one of the biggest leaps, moving up four spots to No. 6 after knocking off Stanford and UCLA this past week. Texas A&M, Duke, Kentucky and Maryland finished off the top 10. The Wildcats moved up four places after beating then-No. 8 Baylor last Monday. The Lady Bears dropped to 13th.

No. 25 Mississippi State entered the poll for the first time since Nov. 23, 2009, after beating West Virginia and winning the preseason WNIT. Gonzaga fell out.

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