San Antonio – St. Mary’s University’s women’s basketball team entered the national rankings for the first time this season, ranking 25th in the nation in the latest USA Today/ESPN Division II Coaches Poll, which was released on Tuesday afternoon.
The Rattlers are 16-2 overall and 5-0 in Heartland Conference play this season after a 60-38 win over the University of the Incarnate Word on Saturday at Bill Greehey Arena. The 16-2 start to the season is the second best 18-game record in school history. The 2001-2002 Rattlers started the season 17-1 on their way to a 23-1 start. The Rattlers have won five straight games overall heading into this week’s play. They have also won 19 straight Heartland Conference games, dating back to the start of the 2007-2008 season.
The Rattlers are the only team from the Heartland Conference to be ranked in the last three years, having also earned a ranking as high as 15th in the nation last season on their way to a 25-5 record, a Heartland Conference Championship and a trip to the NCAA Division II South Central Regional Tournament. St. Mary’s is one of five teams in the South Central Region that is nationally ranked. Emporia State University is currently ranked fourth in the nation, Washburn University is tied for 11th, West Texas A&M University is 13th and the University of Central Oklahoma is 16th. The Rattlers have already beaten one nationally ranked team this season, giving the University of California-San Diego one of its only two losses this season. The Tritons are currently ranked 17th.
The national ranking marks the fourth time that St. Mary’s has been nationally ranked since moving to NCAA Division II in 2000-2001. Prior to last season the Rattlers were ranked during 2001-20002 and 2002-2003 seasons. In 2002-2003 they debuted at #12, but fell out of the rankings after the Dec. 11, 2002 poll. The Rattlers highest-ever ranking in the poll came during the 2001-2002 season in which they climbed as high as sixth in the nation, setting a school record with a 26-3 record.
St. Mary’s will return to action on Thursday when they travel to the University of Texas of the Permian Basin for a Heartland Conference matchup, starting at 5:30 p.m. The Rattlers next home game will be on Thursday, Feb. 12, when they host Oklahoma Panhandle State University at 5:30 p.m.