April 15, 2024

Upsets have been a key storyline so far this season, and we’re bound to see a lot more. But Sunday, we saw something not seen in 19 years.

UConn, Tennessee and Stanford, the most iconic programs in women’s college basketball, have a combined 22 NCAA titles and 55 trips to the Final Four. Sunday, for the first time since Dec. 29, 2004, all three teams lost on the same day. The Huskies and Cardinal dropped in the ESPN Power Rankings, while the Lady Vols might be concerned about dropping out of the Associated Press Top 25.

UConn is now 4-3 and already fell from the AP top 10 last week. The Huskies are still in our Power Rankings top 10 — barely — because we’re giving a lot of weight to the fact that the three teams they’ve lost to are all currently in our top five.

Texas is the latest to beat UConn; the Longhorns won 80-68 in Austin on Sunday. Like UCLA on Nov. 24, the Longhorns got their first-ever victory over UConn. (NC State, the other team to beat the Huskies this season, got its first win over them since 1998.)

Texas, playing its most challenging opponent thus far in UConn, made the biggest jump in the Power Rankings this week, moving to No. 5. Stanford, which made the biggest fall this week, lost 96-78 at Gonzaga and dropped five notches to No. 8.

As for Tennessee, the Lady Vols are 4-4 and haven’t been in this season’s ESPN Power Rankings (they are No. 20 in the AP poll). But Notre Dame, one of the teams to defeat Tennessee this past week, makes its debut this season.


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1:28

Brynna Maxwell powers Gonzaga to upset over Stanford

Brynna Maxwell drops 27 points as Gonzaga upsets Stanford 96-78.

The senior forward had 23 points and 10 rebounds in an 82-80 victory Wednesday against Eastern Washington. But that was just a warm-up for her performance Sunday against Stanford: 27 points on 68.8% shooting (11-of-16) from the field, 5-for-5 from the line, 12 rebounds, two assists. For the season, Ejim is averaging 20.0 PPG and 8.5 RPG while shooting 66.9% from the field.

Southern Miss made the last of its eight NCAA tournament appearances way back in 1996. But the Lady Eagles are now 7-0, their best start since the 2003-04 season, and got their first win over a ranked team since the 1999-2000 season. It came Saturday in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, as Southern Miss beat No. 19 Ole Miss 61-59 behind senior guard Domonique Davis‘ 25 points.

The No. 3 Cardinal are the highest-ranked team Gonzaga has ever defeated. It’s the third time the Bulldogs have beaten Stanford in 15 meetings, as Gonzaga got its 24th consecutive win at home. Yes, Stanford star Cameron Brink was limited to 11 minutes due to illness, but this was still a big triumph for the Bulldogs, who held the Cardinal to 22 points below their season average.

It also wasn’t the only West Coast Conference win over a Pac-12 team to raise eyebrows last week: Portland clobbered Oregon 91-60 on Thursday.

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2:59

Staley highlights South Carolina’s ‘sisterhood’ in win

Dawn Staley explains how the No. 1 Gamecocks’ chemistry paid dividends in the tough win over Duke while also taking time to recognize the V Foundation.

Coach of the week: Dawn Staley, South Carolina

The top-ranked Gamecocks easily could have stumbled twice this week in road games at North Carolina and Duke. They didn’t, though, thanks in part to Staley’s ability to adjust to what the Tar Heels and Blue Devils both tried to do to slow down South Carolina’s offense.

In their 65-58 victory Thursday in Chapel Hill, the Gamecocks were held below 70 points for the only time this season. That’s what North Carolina needed to do to win the game, but guards Bree Hall (15 points) and Te-Hina Paopao (14) kept South Carolina from falling.

In the Gamecocks’ 77-61 victory in Durham on Sunday, Staley leaned on center Kamilla Cardoso down the stretch, as she scored eight points in South Carolina’s crucial 15-2 fourth-quarter run. These were confidence-building wins for the Gamecocks.


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0:23

MiLaysia Fulwiley sinks near half-court shot to beat the buzzer

South Carolina’s MiLaysia Fulwiley steals the ball and cuts into Duke’s lead with a long trey to end the first quarter.

Power Rankings

1. South Carolina Gamecocks (9-0)
Previous ranking:
1
This week: vs. Morgan State Lady Bears (Wednesday), vs. Utah Utes (Sunday)

Kamilla Cardoso is making the impact on the boards that the Gamecocks had hoped for. She has led them in rebounding every game but one, including 30 combined against North Carolina and Duke. South Carolina’s matchup vs. Utah this week will be part of the Hall of Fame Women’s Showcase tripleheader at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

2. UCLA Bruins (7-0)
Previous ranking:
2
This week: vs. Cal State Northridge Matadors (Thursday), vs. Florida State Seminoles (Sunday)

The Bruins are also taking part in the Hall of Fame Women’s Showcase this week, as they face Florida State. This past week, they won their first true road game of the season, beating Arkansas 81-66 in Fayetteville. UCLA dominated the boards 56-26, and center Lauren Betts was 9-of-9 from the field for 20 points.

3. NC State Wolfpack (9-0)
Previous ranking:
4
This week: vs. Liberty Flames (Sunday)

Defense continues to get the job done for the Wolfpack, who beat Vanderbilt and Illinois State this past week. NC State is allowing 55.6 PPG, and UConn is the only team to score more than 62 points against the Wolfpack (the Huskies scored 81 in a loss in November).

4. Colorado Buffaloes (8-1)
Previous ranking:
5
This week: vs. UT Arlington Mavericks (Tuesday)

The Buffs cruised past Boston University and Air Force last week behind a combined 45 points from guard Frida Formann. Colorado has just two more games before starting the Pac-12 season, where the Buffs’ first three foes are the teams they are going to the Big 12 with next year: Utah, Arizona and Arizona State.

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0:17

Amina Muhammad’s second-chance bucket boosts Texas’ lead

Amina Muhammad extends Texas’ lead in the closing stages of the game with a nice bucket.

5. Texas Longhorns (9-0)
Previous ranking:
10
This week: vs. Long Beach State Beach (Wednesday)

Guard Rori Harmon made a strong push for our player of the week award, with a combined 37 points and 26 assists in victories over Oral Roberts and UConn. Everyone was eager to see how the Longhorns would look against UConn, and they showed especially in the first half that they can be scary.

6. LSU Tigers (8-1)
Previous ranking:
7
This week: vs. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (Sunday)

Trumpet fanfare: Angel Reese is back after missing four games. In an 82-64 victory over Virginia Tech, she had 19 points and nine rebounds. Coach Kim Mulkey got her 700th victory, and there was much to celebrate in Baton Rouge. However, the Tigers’ depth was dealt a blow with the loss of Sa’Myah Smith for the rest of the season to a knee injury, and it’s uncertain whether guard Kateri Poole will rejoin the team.

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1:34

Angel Reese returns for LSU, Kim Mulkey picks up her 700th win

Angel Reese returns to the court and scores 19 points, just in time for Kim Mulkey’s 700th career win.

7. Iowa Hawkeyes (8-1)
Previous ranking:
6
This week: at Iowa State Cyclones (Wednesday), at Wisconsin Badgers (Sunday)

Iowa beat Bowling Green on Saturday with Sue Bird and Jason Sudeikis on hand at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes next travel to play before a full house at Hilton Coliseum on Wednesday in their annual rivalry game against Iowa State. Will Iowa forward Hannah Stuelke, out the past three games with an injury, return this week?

8. Stanford Cardinal (8-1)
Previous ranking:
3
This week: No games

Cameron Brink’s illness, limiting her to 11 minutes, was a big factor in Sunday’s loss at Gonzaga. Regardless of personnel, it was a bad day for Stanford’s defense, which gave up the program’s most points since 2000 (102 in an overtime loss to Oklahoma) and most in a regulation game since 1994 (105 to Tennessee). Stanford became the 12th team this season to lose while ranked in the top 10.

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1:33

JuJu Watkins notches 5th 30-point game of the season

USC star JuJu Watkins drops 30 points to lead the Trojans to an 89-58 victory over San Diego.

9. USC Trojans (7-0)
Previous ranking:
9
This week: vs. UC Riverside Highlanders (Sunday)

Freshman JuJu Watkins has been a weekly candidate for top player. She’s making 30-point games look commonplace, hitting that number on the dot in victories against Cal Poly and San Diego this past week.

10. UConn Huskies (4-3)
Previous ranking:
8
This week: vs. Ball State Cardinals (Wednesday), vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (Sunday)

We’re giving UConn the benefit of the doubt because of how difficult the Huskies’ schedule has been. By the same token, the losses to NC State, UCLA and Texas were by 11, 11 and 12 points. The Huskies are clinging by a thread to the Power Rankings’ top 10. To stay, they must win both games this week, the latter at the Hall of Fame Women’s Showcase.

11. Baylor Bears (7-0)
Previous ranking:
12
This week: No games

Darianna Littlepage-Buggs, last season’s Big 12 Freshman of the Year, had a combined 42 points and 17 rebounds in victories over SMU and Oregon. But balance is mostly what we’ve seen from Baylor: Seven players are averaging between 13.7 and 8.3 PPG.

12. Kansas State Wildcats (7-1)
Previous ranking:
15
This week: vs. McNeese Cowgirls (Wednesday), vs. Missouri Tigers in St. Joseph, Missouri (Saturday)

It was a pretty quiet week for the Wildcats, who easily defeated Jackson State on Friday. This week, Kansas State takes on former Big 12 rival Missouri in a neutral-site game that might be the last test the Wildcats get before conference play begins Dec. 30.

13. Utah Utes (7-1)
Previous ranking:
13
This week: at Saint Joseph’s Hawks (Thursday), vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (Sunday)

The Utes had six blowout wins and one loss (to Baylor) before Saturday’s in-state showdown with BYU. Alissa Pili took over against the Cougars with 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting, six rebounds and five assists in an 87-68 victory. It was good preparation for Utah’s biggest test yet: Sunday against No. 1 South Carolina.

14. Ohio State Buckeyes (6-1)
Previous ranking:
16
This week: vs. Ohio Bobcats (Tuesday), vs. Penn State Lady Lions (Sunday)

After losing their season opener Nov. 6 against USC, the Buckeyes were eager to get another chance against a ranked team. They made the most of it with a 78-58 victory at Tennessee. Ohio State is just the third team in the past 50 years to beat the Lady Vols in Knoxville by at least 20 points. The other two were both by 22 points: in 2016 (Baylor) and 1985 (Texas).

15. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-1)
Previous ranking:
NR
This week: vs. Lafayette Leopards (Wednesday)

Our first Power Rankings came out after the Irish lost their season opener to South Carolina in Paris. That remains their only loss. A 74-69 comeback victory at Tennessee on Wednesday, led by Maddy Westbeld’s 15 points and 10 rebounds, shows the grit the Irish have despite the injuries they are dealing with.

16. Indiana Hoosiers (7-1)
Previous ranking:
NR
This week: at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Saturday)

Like Notre Dame, the Hoosiers are also making their Power Rankings debut this season. A 96-64 loss at Stanford on Nov. 12 is the only blemish on Indiana’s record. The Hoosiers have played better since, including victories this week against Maine (fifth-year senior Mackenzie Holmes‘ homecoming game) and Stetson. Holmes led Indiana with a combined 39 points on 16-of-20 shooting in those victories.

Fell out: Virginia Tech Hokies; Florida State Seminoles

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