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Tech women crack Top 25

POSTED: February 1, 2008 5:04 a.m.

Syracuse and Georgia Tech came close to pulling off huge upsets last week. Both were rewarded with a spot in the Top 25.

The Orange entered The Associated Press poll for the first time in school history Monday at No. 24 after giving No. 1 Connecticut its toughest game of the season. The Yellow Jackets, at No. 23, joined the Top 25 for the first time since 1993 after falling to No. 4 Maryland in double overtime Sunday.

"First thing you do is when you get in these positions, find a way to stay there," said Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman, who can turn to men’s coach Jim Boeheim for advice. "He’s ranked every year. I’ll definitely go back to him and talk to him about a few things."

Connecticut remained the unanimous No. 1 for the third consecutive week. The Huskies edged Syracuse 65-59 and beat Cincinnati 86-49 on Saturday. The close loss to Connecticut helped Syracuse (15-3) gain national attention.

"To be one of the premier teams you have to prove you can play with them," Hillsman said. "UConn is a great program and it says a lot about our kids that we were able to compete."

The Orange’s three losses have come against ranked teams — North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Connecticut. Syracuse’s 15 victories are the school’s most since the 2001-02 season when the Orange went 18-13 and qualified for the NCAA tournament.

"We haven’t had time to look back and relish what we’ve done," Hillsman said. "We’ve just gone out every game and approached it like its a national championship."

While Syracuse’s success has been surprising, Georgia Tech (16-3) had high expectations a season after a second-round loss to Purdue in the NCAA tournament to Purdue.

"Being ranked is one of the things the kids have talked about all year," Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. "We had four starters back and it was one of the goals we set for ourselves. We want to get the Top 25 and don’t want to leave."

The Yellow Jackets have only lost at Georgia, at North Carolina, and at Maryland.

"To get in the Top 25 after a loss is rewarding," Joseph said. "It’s a great accomplishment for us and our program."

Georgia Tech hosts No. 10 Duke on Thursday.

"We’re excited to play Duke right after Maryland," Joseph said. "There isn’t going to be a drop off. We understand what it takes to play at the highest level."

Despite the changes near the bottom of the poll, the top 10 remained the same as last week. Tennessee was No. 2 followed by North Carolina, Maryland, Rutgers, Baylor, Stanford, California, LSU and Duke.

The week ahead features several top 10 matchups, including North Carolina at Connecticut on Monday night and Maryland at the Tar Heels on Saturday. Also Stanford is at California on Saturday night.

Oklahoma remained No. 11 despite losing at home to Baylor on Sunday. West Virginia was No. 12, followed by Old Dominion, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Georgia, Wyoming, Pittsburgh and George Washington, which tumbled seven spots after a loss to Temple.

Texas A&M, Kansas State, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Auburn round out the Top 25. It’s Kansas State’s first appearance in the poll this season. DePaul, Texas, and Colorado fell out of the Top 25.



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