UCI, led by junior forward Mikah Maly-Karros and senior point guard Jade Smith-Williams, who have captured the first two Big West Player of the Week accolades this season, could crack the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 when the poll is released today. UCI was not in the top 25 released Jan. 4, though the 'Eaters were among those who received votes.
That Jan. 4 poll included UC Davis (12-4, 2-2) at No. 10.
UCI was also slighted on the Big West website Monday, when a release announcing Maly-Karros as Player of the Week included a picture of junior Kiara Belen misidentified as Maly-Karros.
Goodenbour said late in December that UC Riverside and UC Davis were clear favorites to win the conference crown this season. But UCI won at UC Riverside, 53-46, to open conference play Dec. 31.
UCI, which is 7-0 at home this season, has won five straight and 11 of its last 12.
Orange Coast College (15-5, 2-0 in the Orange Empire Conference) is tied atop the seven-team conference with Riverside (12-7, 2-0), though Fullerton (16-2, 1-0) and Cypress (12-5, 1-0) are also programs to reckon with.
OCC is ranked No 10 in the state and No. 6 in Southern California.
Fullerton, ranked No. 2 in the state, plays host to Coach Mike Thornton's Pirates on Jan. 21.
Cypress, ranked No. 14 in the state and No. 7 in SoCal, visits OCC on Jan. 19.
Riverside is not ranked.
Meanwhile, Vanguard (8-4, 4-2), ranked No. 12 in the NAIA poll released Monday and having won seven of the last eight GSAC titles, sits in a four-way tie for third in the ultra-competitive 11-school GSAC.
Coach Russ Davis' Lions let one get away Saturday night, falling in overtime to Cal Baptist, 84-76. Vanguard held a six-point lead with 33 seconds left in regulation.