South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against San Diego State, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
Richard Shiro
November 24, 2014

A new week led to a new No. 1 in The Associated Press women's basketball poll as South Carolina was atop the poll for the first time in school history.

Coach Dawn Staley is no stranger herself to being ranked No. 1. As a player, she helped Virginia reach No. 1. Staley is only the second person in women's basketball to play and coach a top-ranked team, joining Baylor's Kim Mulkey.

''I feel really good about what our team has been able to accomplish,'' Staley said. ''This is not a goal that we had set, but it is a part of our journey.''

The team was traveling to their tournament in the Bahamas when the new poll came out. Staley gathered them in baggage claim after they got off the plane and told the Gamecocks the good news.

Here are some other nuggets from this week's poll:

ROAD TRIP: South Carolina's first game as a top-ranked team will be 534 miles away from campus in the Bahamas at the Junkanoo Jam tournament. The Gamecocks will face Wisconsin on Thursday and then potential No. 22 Syracuse on Friday.

''We will see if being away from home cuts down on distractions of being ranked No. 1,'' Staley said of the trip. ''This week was already going to be a test since we have a big group of young players who haven't played a Division I basketball game on the road.''

REIGN IS OVER: UConn's 22-week run atop the poll ended with an overtime loss to Stanford last Monday night. The Huskies hold three of the five longest streaks in the history of the Top 25. Connecticut fell to third this week, but still garnered one first-place vote.

STILL TIED UP: For the third straight week there was a tie in the poll. The preseason poll had two teams tied at No. 24. Last week there was a three-way tie for 24th. Now there's three teams tied at No. 22 with Georgia, Syracuse and West Virginia sharing the honors.

REACHING THE TOP 25: Buoyed by their preseason WNIT title, Mississippi State earned its first ranking in five years when the Bulldogs came into the poll at No. 25. They upset then-No. 16 West Virginia in the semifinals before beating Western Kentucky.

''I'm happy for our kids. It's well-deserved. I'm especially happy for Martha (Alwal), Kendra (Grant) and Jerica (James) who have been with us going on three years and have been through some lean times,'' Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. ''Our kids have earned it, and now the challenge is living up to it day to day. It's not where you start but where you finish, but we are certainly excited people across the country are recognizing what we are doing here at Mississippi State and rewarding our players for their effort and work ethic.''

It's Mississippi State's first ranking since Nov. 23, 2009. The Bulldogs (4-0) are off to their best start since winning their first four games in both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

UPCOMING MATCHUPS: Two of the best games of the young season take place on Friday with James Madison facing No. 9 Maryland and 11th-ranked North Carolina meeting No. 5 Stanford in a rematch of last season's Elite Eight game. Coach Tara VanDerveer has really challenged her team early on so far with games against Connecticut, No. 6 Texas and now the Tar Heels.

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