UTC Women Crack AP College Basketball Poll For First Time Since 1984

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball team has been knocking on the door for many years. Someone finally answered.

After six weeks of receiving votes and getting as close as seven points on January 5, and just two spots out of the Top 25 for the last two weeks, the Mocs have finally cracked the AP Top 25 with a 25th place ranking.

“When a group works really hard and wants to be coached and plays the game for each other, good things can happen,” UTC Head Coach Jim Foster said.

It is Chattanooga’s first time in the Top 25 since 1984 when the Mocs made it into the then-AP Top 20 Poll four times. UTC’s highest ranking was 19 for three weeks in the 1984 poll. Former head coach Sharon Fanning led the team to a Runner-Up finish in the NWIT with a one-point loss to Vanderbilt in the final.

This season, the Mocs are on a 13-game win streak and boast an overall record of 17-3 while remaining undefeated through five games in the Southern Conference this season and 39 straight since 2013.

In November, Chattanooga did what many thought was an insurmountable task in getting its first-ever win over a Top 10 foe with a victory over then No. 4 ranked Tennessee at the Roundhouse. It was Chattanooga’s second win – both at home – over the Lady Vols in three years.

Three weeks later UTC proved the win wasn’t a fluke beating then-No. 7 ranked Stanford in the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

Chattanooga posted a 12-3 non-conference slate that included wins over Butler, Harvard and South Dakota to go along with the wins over the Cardinal and Lady Vols.

In the NCAA rankings this season, the Mocs efforts have shown. UTC tops the list of fewest personal fouls with 11 per game and are seventh in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 51.8 points per game. Sophomore Jasmine Joyner is ranked fourth in the NCAA with a SoCon-best 4.15 blocked shots per game, propelling UTC to 11th in the NCAA rankings as a team.

Joyner and freshman Keiana Gilbert were both selected the College Sports Madness National Mid-Major Player of the Week following the Mocs wins over Tennessee and Stanford while the team was recognized by the NCAA as its Team of the Week following the victory over the Lady Vols.

The Tennessee win also gave Gilbert extra recognition when she was named the ESPNW National Player of the Week. She is a two-time SoCon Freshman of the Week honoree.

For Jim Foster, this is the fourth team the Hall of Fame coach has led into the Top 25. He guided St. Joseph’s to 35 appearances in the Top 25 with the highest ranking of 16. At Vanderbilt, the Commodores were ranked the nation’s top team in the poll six different times and were in the Top 25 for 165 weeks.

In his 11 seasons at Ohio State, Foster led the Buckeye’s to a Top 25 ranking 171 times while reaching the top five 32 times. Under his guidance, Ohio State reached the No. 2 spot in the 2006 final poll.

According to the Associated Press, Foster is the only coach to guide four different teams into the AP Top 25.

The Mocs will face a tough opponent Monday night against Samford who is 4-0 in SoCon play and 11-8 on the year. The Bulldogs are on a five-game win streak and earlier this season posted a win over Penn State in the Georgia State Thanksgiving Classic.

 

Categories: College, Sports, Sports – Local Sports News, Sports – UTC Mocs

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