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Utah women’s hoops ranked for first time in more than decade

Credit: Steve C. Wilson

NEW YORK — Utah earned its first appearance in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll in a decade entering at No. 21 on Monday.

The Utes (16-1) last were ranked in the final poll of the 2008 season. They were one of four teams to enter the Top 25 after 13 ranked teams lost last week. Utah was joined by Florida State at 22, Texas A&M at 24 and Missouri at 25.

Utah is off to its best start since 1997 when the team won its first 16 games. With four freshmen on the roster getting significant time the future remains bright for the Utes, who head into a difficult part of their schedule with home games this weekend against Cal and Stanford before heading up to face Oregon and Oregon State next weekend.

Utah’s one loss came against No. 16 Arizona State. Utah had a 6-point lead with 1:20 to go in that game before falling at the buzzer. The team also lost it starting point guard to an ACL injury. Coach Lynne Roberts wasn’t sure how her squad would respond 36 hours later when facing Arizona and the team responded with a rout of Arizona.

“It was one of my more proud moments,” Roberts said.

While there was change at the bottom of the poll, the top eight teams stayed virtually the same with Notre Dame leading the way. The Fighting Irish received 22 first place votes from the 30-member national media panel. Baylor broke a tie with UConn for second, garnering seven top ballots. The Huskies got the other one and dropped to third. Louisville and Oregon rounded out the first five teams in the poll.

Stanford is sixth, followed by Mississippi State, N.C. State, Oregon State and Marquette. It’s the first time that the Golden Eagles have ever been ranked this high.

Tennessee dropped out of the poll after losing its fourth straight game last week. Minnesota, DePaul and Indiana also fell out of the Top 25.