Grand Valley State, Ashland, Drury, Glenville State and Western Washington. To no one's surprise, those were the top five teams in the latest DII women's basketball Power 10 rankings. However, as we head into the new year, there have been a few teams that have seemingly come out of nowhere.
RANKINGS: The last DII women's basketball Power 10 of 2022
As we prepare to enter the season's second half and the tougher schedules of conference play, let's look at seven teams that have performed very well thus far.
(Note: All records and stats through Dec. 28, 2022.)
First on the list is the Rams. Angelo State was 1-13 in the shortened 20-21 season and rebounded with a nice 15-13 season last year. Now 9-2, the Rams are well on pace to beat the win total of the past two years combined. They also have an impressive win over nationally ranked Eckerd earlier in November, which will go far at selection time. With a healthy Peyton Brown — who’s missed the last few games — the Rams can boast a starting five that has four players contributing at least 14 points a game. This team is heading into the second half riding a three-game winning streak.
The men’s team is always making noise in the NSIC, but this year, the women’s team is joining in the fun. One year removed from a 13-win season, the Vikings sit at 11-2 awaiting the second half to begin. It’s even more impressive when you consider they started 2-0 against Fort Hays State and Missouri Western, two teams that got preseason Power 10 rankings recognition, and piled up 11 wins against the 26th toughest schedule in DII. The NSIC is heavy at the top this year, so there is a lot more to play, but this is as strong a start the Vikings could have hoped for in 2022.
ALL-STATS TEAM: A dream starting five of the best stats through November
The Greyhounds won a mere 12 games last year but are now sitting pretty atop the NE10 with an 11-0 record. A big 5-0 start through the conference puts them in very strong shape entering 2023. Assumption is allowing a stingy 48.6 points per game — 11 points fewer than last year — and have the top scoring defense in DII women’s basketball at the break while also holding opponents to a DII-low 31.8% field goal percentage. Molly Stokes leads the way offensively, but there are several scorers on this team.
Cal State Dominguez Hills
The Toros, a 13-12 team last year, are off to a red-hot start, entering the break at a perfect 10-0. That includes a huge non-conference, 30-point victory over nationally ranked Alaska Anchorage. As a whole, this team is scoring 11.5 points more per game than last year while holding opponents to an impressive 56.4 points per game. The Toros come out of the break and jump right into conference play in the tricky CCAA.
The Bears have cracked the past two DII women’s basketball Power 10 rankings and enter the second half of play an impressive 13-0. Not bad for a team that finished 11-15 last year, huh? This offense is more potent than last year, turning around a -0.6 scoring margin in 2021-22 to a 21.0 point per game victory margin, the 10th-best mark in DII. Four players are capable of a double-digit performance on any given night, but the Bears still have some to prove with the toughest part of their schedule ahead of them.
If you read my article earlier this week about the DII men’s basketball surprise teams, you know something special is happening in St. Louis, Missouri. The women’s squad joins the men as two of the turnaround programs thus far in 2022-23 in all DII basketball. After going 13-14 a year ago, the Saints entered the break at 8-3. This team tested itself as well, and although they were losses, battling Grand Valley State and Drury will pay dividends in the long run. This is another team that has depth in its starting five with scoring, with Antoinette Mussorici leading the way, leading the team in points and assists so far this year.
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St. Thomas Aquinas
The Spartans were 14-15 last season, and are already closing in on that in total, beginning the second half with a nice 9-3 record. Last year’s record, however, was a bit deceiving as they started the season 1-9. Dating back to Dec. 17, 2021, the Spartans have been red hot, going 22-8 over that span. This year, they already have a signature win over Daemen, the team most considered would contend with the Spartans for the ECC crown. Erin Leary (14.8 points, 7.9 rebounds per game) and Sarah Ericson (13.4 points, 9.0 rebounds per game) lead the way.