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South Carolina atop women’s AP Top 25 from start to finish

South Carolina finished the season where it started: at No. 1 in The Associated Press women’s college basketball poll.

The Gamecocks were the top choice all season long and became the first team since UConn in the 2017-18 season to be No. 1 from start to finish. It’s the second time in the past three seasons that South Carolina ended the season atop the poll. (UConn finished at No. 1 last season.)

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South Carolina, which is the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament that begins this week, received 20 first-place votes from the 30-member national media panel Monday.

Coach Dawn Staley’s team went 11-0 against other AP Top 25 teams and even survived two losses to remain No. 1 in the poll during the season.

“I’m really proud of our team for how they’ve handled the season getting everyone’s best shot,” Staley said. “I’m happy to see that the schedule we played was recognized throughout the season, and the team could reap the rewards of that full body of work.”

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Stanford was second in the poll, receiving nine first-place votes, with North Carolina State, Louisville and UConn rounded out the top five. It’s the 16th consecutive season that the Huskies have finished in the top five in the final poll.

Texas moved up a spot to sixth after winning the Big 12 Tournament, beating then-No. 4 Baylor in the final. The Bears dropped to seventh. Iowa, LSU and Iowa State rounded out the top 10. It’s the Cyclones’ best ranking in the final poll since they were eighth in 2001.

BYU fell five spots to 20th after losing to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament championship game.

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TAR HEEL STATE

North Carolina finished the season at No. 17. It’s the first time that the Tar Heels were ranked in the final ballot since 2015 when they were 15th.

CONFERENCE SUPREMECY

The ACC and Big Ten each had five teams in the final poll, with the SEC and Big 12 landing four teams apiece.

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