Jan. 7, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

GUNN-ING FOR THE TOP:  Tusculum College cracked the WBCA USA Today/ESPN Division II Coaches’ Poll top 10 for the first time in school history as the Pioneers moved into the No. 9 spot on the merits of an eight-game winning streak.

The Pioneers ended Lenoir-Rhyne’s nine-game winning stretch with a 79-72 defeat of the Bears on Jan. 3 as they improved to 2-0 in South Atlantic Conference action.

Sophomore Jasmine Gunn paces the Pioneers with 14.8 points per game on an offense that is scoring 85.8 points per contest, an average which ranks seventh nationally.  Tusculum boasts a scoring margin of almost 23 points per game to lead the SAC. Gunn, native of Nashville, Tenn., netted a game-high 24 points against the Bears for her third 20-point game of the year.

The Pioneers look to test their top 10 ranking at Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 7 in SAC action.

STELLAR SPARTANS:  The University of Tampa vaulted up five spots to No. 19 in the latest WBCA USA Today/ESPN Division II Coaches’ Poll as the Spartans held on to a national ranking in consecutive weeks for the first time in school history.  It is also the Spartans’ highest ranking in program history.

Tampa boasts the best scoring defense in the nation, allowing just 40.7 points per game, and ranks second in Division II with a 28.4 field goal percentage defense.

The Spartans have won nine straight games for only the fourth time in program history.  Tampa is one of three Sunshine State Conference teams ranked in the Top 25, joining unbeaten No. 12 Rollins and No. 15 Barry.

RECORD NIGHT:  Texas Woman’s University senior forward Renee Renz reset the record books as she tallied 63 points in a 147-143 quadruple overtime loss to Abilene Christian on Jan. 5. 

Renz’ scoring total is a Lone Star Conference single-game record, and is the third-highest effort at any level of NCAA women’s basketball.  She connected on 22-of-36 field goal attempts and 15-of-17 free throws.  The native of Flower Mound, Texas, was named LSC North Player of the Week for her achievement.

In the last four games, Renz has averaged 35.2 points and 14.0 rebounds.  She has raised her scoring average to 25.4, which ranks second in the LSC, and leads the league with 12.9 rebounds per game.

The game also set NCAA records for points, points by losing team (including overtimes) and points in overtime.

FRESH FACE:  Cal Poly Pomona’s Megan Ford garnered Wilson California Collegiate Athletic Association after contributing 18.0 points and 9.5 rebounds for the week as the Broncos remained undefeated in league action.

The freshman center from Newhall, Calif., netted 14 points and posted nine rebounds in a 65-61 win over Chico State and followed it up with a double-double, recording a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds against Cal State Stanislaus.  Ford tops the squad with 7.5 rebounds per game.

The Broncos have won six straight games, marking their longest winning streak since the 2004-05 season.

NOTABLE:  Harding earned its first national ranking since joining Division II this week after starting the season with a 12-0 mark.  The No. 24 Lady Bison are one of five unbeaten teams remaining in Division II, and off to their best start since the 1996-97 season … Clayton State, No. 2 in the preseason poll, has returned to the national rankings at No. 21 after putting together a nine-game winning streak and 3-0 mark in Peach Belt Conference play.