CSU women No.1 in national basketball poll

So far this season, everything has gone right for the Clayton State women's basketball team.

Their 24-0 record is the best start to a Laker season ever. They are even drawing some comparisons to the squad that went to the NCAA Division II Final Four in 2007.

One thing is for sure, right now: They're the best Division II team in the country. That honor became official Tuesday afternoon when the new poll came out with Clayton State leading the way in the top-25 rankings.

It's the first time Clayton State has been ranked No.1 in any sport.

Despite writing a new chapter in their athletic history, the Lakers now know they can't let up.

"While we are flattered and honored to be the No.1-ranked team in the nation at this moment, we realize that we haven't won anything," said CSU Head Coach Dennis Cox. "It just means we have to work a little harder, because the target just got a little bigger."

The Lakers set the stage for moving into the top spot in the rankings after they beat Lander 83-81 last Thursday.

Lander had been ranked No.1 in the country for several weeks, while Clayton State was No. 2. This week, they flip-flopped positions as Lander (25-1) fell to the No. 2 spot in the Top-25 poll.

After the win against Lander, the Lakers then helped their own cause with an impressive victory over Francis Marion University two days later, knocking off the Patriots, 80-60.

With four games remaining in the regular season, Clayton State is the only undefeated Division II women's team in the nation.

For Clayton State Athletic Director Mason Barfield, the No.1-ranking is a testament to how competitive the basketball team has become, but he hopes it's not the end of the story.

"It's says a lot about how we have played after 24 games, but we also know where we want to be at the end of the year," said Barfield.

Barfield said he is excited about the direction of the entire Clayton State athletic department. The athletic director has been with the school since it started athletics in 1990, when he arrived on campus as the first men's basketball coach.

Last fall, the men's soccer team advanced to the Elite 8, and earned a No.5 ranking in the final NCAA Division II poll. The women‘s tennis team has just begun its spring season with a No. 9 ranking.

"Our women's basketball team is not on an island," he said. "We are trying to be competitive in all our sports."

Tonight, Clayton State puts its No.1 ranking on the line when it travels to Columbus State for a Peach Belt Conference game. The Lakers then close out the regular season with a game at home against Montevallo (Feb. 19); at North Georgia (Feb. 23), and at Georgia Southwestern (Feb. 26).

With its No.1 ranking, CSU could, eventually, host an NCAA Regional. That decision will be made after the Peach Belt Conference Tournament, which runs March 2-6 at USC-Aiken, in Aiken, S.C.