Women's Power Rankings: Top 16 unchanged, Utah's Pili nets honor

Utah came up short against No. 1 South Carolina, but senior Alissa Pili is the ESPN player of the week for the Utes, who remain No. 13 in our Power Rankings. Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Since then-No. 1 LSU lost on Day 1 of the 2023-24 women's college basketball season, we've been prepared for anything. Multiple teams ranked in the top five have been upset. Potential No. 1 seeds have come and gone.

However, this past week was downright calm. The big news in the Week 5 ESPN Power Rankings? Everybody stayed put.

As we approach the holidays and schools having final exams, it's not unusual for movement to stall a little as teams play fewer games. But it is odd to have no movement at all. Utah was the only one of our 16 teams that lost a game last week. And that was to No. 1 South Carolina, so the Utes didn't drop.

There were some noteworthy performances, including Iowa's Caitlin Clark crossing the 3,000-point barrier in a victory at Iowa State on Wednesday. Four days later, the Indiana Fever won the top pick in the WNBA draft lottery. Whether they will have a chance to pick Clark -- who could return next season due to the COVID-19 waiver -- remains to be seen.

The Gamecocks stayed firm at No. 1, and UConn, which plunged to No. 17 in the Associated Press poll last week, are still hanging on in our top 10.

Player of the week: Alissa Pili, Utah

The 6-foot-2 forward has been piling up points this season and is averaging 24.6 per game. This past week, she had 31 points in a victory at Saint Joseph's and 37 in a loss against No. 1 South Carolina. Pili was a combined 27 of 40 from the field in those games (67.5%), and for the season is shooting 72.1% (93 of 129) and 55.6% overall from behind the arc (20 of 36). Especially with the loss of guard Gianna Kneepkens for the season to a foot injury, Pili is the rock for the Utes.

Team of the Week: Washington

The undefeated Huskies got wins against Montana State and then at No. 21 Washington State. Sophomore guard Hannah Stines led the way against the Cougars with a career-high 21 points plus nine rebounds.

The Huskies haven't been to the NCAA tournament since 2017, the senior season of current Las Vegas Aces star Kelsey Plum. Sunday's victory at Pullman, Washington, also was the Huskies' first road win against a Top 25 opponent since Plum's final season. The Huskies are 10-0; they last started a season with 10 wins in 1997-98.

Win of the week: Arkansas-Pine Bluff 74, Arkansas 70

The Golden Lions got a monumental victory, their first-ever over the state's flagship school Sunday. It was the Razorbacks' first loss to an in-state opponent since they fell to Arkansas State in 2005.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff has two players, Zaay Green and Maori Davenport, who previously played at SEC schools, among other transfers. The Golden Lions have a 4-7 record, but five of their opponents have been Power 5 schools.

Green, who previously played at Tennessee and Texas A&M and was a top-10 recruit in the Class of 2018, led the way with 21 points. Davenport, who played at Rutgers and Georgia previously, had a team-best 10 rebounds.

"We made history," UAPB coach Dawn Thornton told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "We don't even scratch the surface of what they have in Fayetteville. But one thing that we do have is a big heart and young women that don't really care about stuff. They just want to come out and play hard and make a name for themselves."

Coach of the week: Lindy La Roque, UNLV Lady Rebels

UNLV is off to a 9-0 start after a 92-76 win at Oklahoma on Saturday. Last year, the Rebels set a program record with 31 wins and won the Mountain West regular-season and tournament titles for the second year in a row. La Roque, in her fourth season at UNLV, has been Mountain West coach of the year twice.

Power Rankings

Te-Hina Paopao drains the dagger to secure the win for South Carolina

Te-Hina Paopao drives and drains the floater to secure the win for the Gamecocks over the Utes.

1. South Carolina Gamecocks (9-0)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. Presbyterian Blue Hose (Saturday)

The Gamecocks got victories over Morgan State and Utah last week. Against the Utes, the Gamecocks showed again they don't just have depth, but depth that really matters. South Carolina's bench can be on the court in big moments against high-quality opponents. All 10 players who saw time against Utah scored.

2. UCLA Bruins (9-0)
Previous ranking:
This week: No games

The Bruins' offense took center stage in wins over Cal State Northridge and Florida State, scoring a combined 206 points. Sophomore center Lauren Betts' wow factor continues in her first season at UCLA. Her 22 points, 18 rebounds and 4 blocks led the way against the Seminoles. She is shooting 77.4% -- that's not a typo -- from the field this season.

3. NC State Wolfpack (10-0)
Previous ranking:
This week: at South Florida Bulls (Saturday)

Talk about taking advantage of an opportunity. With Saniya Rivers a late scratch due to back pain Sunday, freshman guard Zoe Brooks got the start in an 80-67 victory over Liberty and finished with a triple-double: 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. While the Wolfpack played in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, their first true road game this season will be Saturday.

Maddie Nolan hits the 3 to extend Colorado's lead

Maddie Nolan hits the 3-pointer to extend Colorado's lead.

4. Colorado Buffaloes (9-1)
Previous ranking:
This week: No games

Senior guard Frida Formann led the Buffaloes past UT Arlington last week (23 points), with teammates Quay Miller and Jaylyn Sherrod each getting double-doubles. Formann is having the best offensive season of her career, averaging a team-high 15.9 PPG and shooting 48.6% from 3-point range (35 of 72). There is a lot to like about a Colorado offense that is averaging 84.6 PPG.

5. Texas Longhorns (10-0)
Previous ranking:
This week: at Arizona Wildcats (Wednesday)

Texas forward Taylor Jones is also producing career highs. After spending three seasons at Oregon State, she is in her second year in Austin and averaging 16.2 PPG. Further solidifying the Longhorns' post game is forward DeYona Gaston, who missed the first nine games this season with an ankle injury. She returned Wednesday with 9 points and 5 rebounds in 14 minutes against Long Beach State.

Flau'jae Johnson and Angel Reese connect for the bucket

Flau'jae Johnson makes an excellence defensive play with the block, then Angel Reese finishes the play with a layup.

6. LSU Tigers (9-1)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. McNeese Cowgirls (Tuesday), vs. Northwestern State Lady Demons (Sunday)

LSU got a 30-point win over Louisiana on Sunday despite starting guard Hailey Van Lith being out with injury. Coach Kim Mulkey also said that guard Kateri Poole, part of last season's national championship team after transferring from Ohio State, is no longer with LSU. Will that be the last of personnel issues Mulkey deals with this season? Or will there be more? The Tigers aren't likely to stumble in the rest of their nonconference games before starting SEC play Jan. 4 vs. Missouri.

Caitlin Clark surpasses 3,000 points on historic night

Caitlin Clark becomes the 15th player in Division I women's basketball history to reach 3,000 points en route to her 35 points in Iowa's 67-58 win over Iowa State.

7. Iowa Hawkeyes (10-1)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. Cleveland State Vikings (Saturday)

The Hawkeyes' 67-58 win at freshman-driven Iowa State on Wednesday was a little close for comfort, but Clark scored 35 points as she topped the 3,000-point career mark. At Wisconsin on Sunday, Clark had 28 points. More good news for Iowa: Sophomore forward Hannah Stuelke returned last week after missing three games with injury. After scoring five points against the Cyclones, she had 21 points in 26 minutes vs. the Badgers.

8. Stanford Cardinal (8-1)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. Portland Pilots (Friday)

The Cardinal had no games last week, so it was probably a good time for a mental re-set after their Dec. 3 loss at Gonzaga. Stanford knows it can play much better defensively than it did in giving up 96 points to the Bulldogs. Another West Coast Conference opponent is next for Stanford.

9. USC Trojans (8-0)
Previous ranking:
This week: No games

The Trojans have beaten one ranked team -- Ohio State -- but that was on Nov. 6. Freshman phenom JuJu Watkins update: She had 27 points in their 85-53 victory over UC Riverside on Sunday. You can't help but look forward to Dec. 30 when USC meets UCLA.

Bueckers dimes Muhl for wide-open 3

Paige Bueckers swings it to an open Nika Muhl for a 3-pointer.

10. UConn Huskies (6-3)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. Louisville Cardinals (Saturday)

After the Dec. 3 loss at Texas, the Huskies needed a week like last one. They got a comfortable 27-point win over Ball State. Then they were tested -- but answered each challenge -- in beating North Carolina 76-64 behind a star performance by Paige Bueckers (26 points). The Huskies don't typically need a confidence boost. But if they did need it, they got it.

11. Baylor Bears (7-0)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. Delaware State Hornets (Thursday), vs. Miami Hurricanes (Saturday)

Baylor was off last week. Despite a Nov. 14 victory over Utah, the Bears still seem a little like a mystery in terms of just how good they are. It will help to see them face a ranked team in Miami on a neutral court Saturday.

12. Kansas State Wildcats (9-1)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. North Florida Ospreys (Saturday)

The Wildcats got a 62-point win over McNeese, and then topped Missouri by 28 points last week. While we thought Missouri might test K-State, it didn't turn out that way. Ayoka Lee was especially impressive against the Tigers, going 12 of 15 from the field. She is shooting a career-high 65.3% this season.

13. Utah Utes (8-2)
Previous ranking:
This week: at Southern Utah Thunderbirds (Saturday)

The loss of Kneepkens for the season is a harsh blow for her and for Utah. Adding that to Isabel Palmer still being out with injury is a lot for the Utes to deal with. But they responded well with a victory over Saint Joseph's and then challenging South Carolina last week.

14. Ohio State Buckeyes (8-1)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. Grand Valley State (Friday)

After a 40-point win against Ohio, the Buckeyes had an entirely different kind of game against Penn State. They entered the fourth quarter down by nine, then dominated the overtime to win 94-84. The stars showed up for Ohio State: Jacy Sheldon had 31 points and Cotie McMahon 27.

15. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-1)
Previous ranking:
This week: vs. Purdue Boilermakers (Sunday)

Just eight games into Hannah Hidalgo's college career, we're already eagerly looking for stat-sheet stuffing every time Notre Dame plays. In a 96-42 win over Lafayette last week, the freshman guard had 26 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 steals.

16. Indiana Hoosiers (8-1)
Previous ranking:
This week: No games

Coach Teri Moren got her 100th Big Ten victory Saturday as the Hoosiers won 66-56 at Rutgers behind 25 points from Mackenzie Holmes and a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) by Sydney Parrish. The Indiana native Parrish, who played her first two seasons at Oregon, said Saturday she has already decided she will be back for a fifth year at Indiana next season.

Fell out: None