Gamecocks hold tight at No. 1 in AP Top 25 women’s poll

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              South Carolina coach Dawn Staley communicates with players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
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NEW YORK (AP) — South Carolina retained its firm grip on the top spot in The Associated Press women’s college basketball poll.

The Gamecocks received 26 first-place votes from a 30-member media panel Monday after routing Mississippi in record fashion and beating then-No. 22 Tennessee. Baylor remained No. 2, receiving three first-place votes. Oregon, UConn and Louisville rounded out the first five teams in the poll. The Cardinals got the other first-place vote.

South Carolina held Mississippi without a point for nearly the first 19 minutes of the SEC game on Thursday. The Rebels finished the half with two points, tying the NCAA record for futility.

The last time a Division I team scored as few as two points in a half was Dec. 16, 2016, when Western Kentucky defeated Lipscomb 87-35 after leading 56-2 at halftime.

The Gamecocks visit No. 25 Arkansas on Thursday before hosting UConn on Feb. 10.

The Huskies host Oregon on Monday night.

Stanford, North Carolina State, Mississippi State, Oregon State and UCLA finished off the first 10 teams in the poll. The Bruins fell two spots after losing at Arizona on Friday night. The Wildcats tied for the biggest climb, moving up four spots along with with Maryland. Arizona’s No. 12 ranking is its best since the final poll of 1998, when the team was ninth.

RISING ZAGS: Gonzaga keeps winning and climbing in the poll. The Bulldogs are 11th this week — their best ranking ever. Gonzaga is 22-1 on the season, with the defeat coming in overtime at Stanford. The Zags visit Pacific and Saint Mary’s this week.

TAKING A BREAK: Both UConn and Louisville stepped away from conference play to have exhibitions against members of the U.S. national team last week. The Huskies played the U.S. team even for the first three quarters and had a brief lead in the fourth before falling by 15. The Cardinals lost by 43 after leading 21-17 at the end of the first quarter. Both games served as homecomings for many of the U.S. players. Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles and Katie Lou Samuelson all got to play against their former team and UConn coach Geno Auriemma. Angel McCoughtry had a chance to play at Louisville one more time.